Thompson, in Harrisburg, Plugs Nat’l Popular Vote

By Brittany Foster, Contributing Writer

Former TV star, Senator and presidential candidate Fred Thompson flew to Harrisburg this morning to join fellow spokesmen for National Popular Vote, former Illinois GOP Governor Jim Edgar and Tom Golisano.

PoliticsPA caught up with Thompson after a host of media and editorial board briefings, including an appearance on WITF’s Smart Talk, a press briefing in 148 Main Capitol and meeting the co-sponsors of Tom Creighton’s HB 1270 (aka the National Popular Vote Initiative).

“We elect everyone from homecoming queen to our governors by the system of one person, one vote but not our president,” Thompson said. “I think, first of all, we have to understand how it is now. Only a handful of states get all the attention. Candidates load up in the big cities of the big states and under NPV there would still be a little bit of that, but it won’t be as exclusive as it is now. [Time and money] will be more dispersed around the country.”

However, NPV won’t take effect until the 270 votes needed to win the presidency are represented in the interstate compact. Approximately half of that number are represented now and it is not likely that NPV will be passed in states representing the other half before the 2012 election.

Thompson is remaining hopeful. “There is a chance that it might come about for next presidential election but a better chance for the election after…A lot depends on what happens here, in Pennsylvania.”

Eight of the state’s 50 senators and 35 of its 203 state representatives are already co-sponsoring this plan and the presence of three nationally known Republicans supporting NPVI is an effort to show the true bipartisan nature of the campaign. .

The issue has received heightened attention since PA Sen. Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) floated a proposal to switch Pennsylvania’s Electoral College from the current winner-take-all system, to one based on outcomes by congressional district. NPVI sought to capitalize on the increased public attention to the Electoral College earlier this fall with a media buy in the Harrisburg area.

Thompson said Pileggi’s plan wouldn’t solve the underlying problem.

“NPV is the only plan that guarantees one person to one vote. There are lots of ways to determine how to distribute electors. [The congressional plan] will continue the same problems that we see today,” he said.

A poll conducted this past spring showed that 2 out of 3 Pennsylvanians support the NPVI legislation compared to last week’s Quinnipiac poll showing that voters in the Commonwealth prefer the current operation of the Electoral College to Pileggi’s plan 52 to 40 percent.

October 4th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Presidential, Top Stories | 6 Comments

6 thoughts on “Thompson, in Harrisburg, Plugs Nat’l Popular Vote”

  1. oldgulph says:

    Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution– “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected. Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation’s first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet). Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

    The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state’s electoral votes.

    As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years.

  2. Judy Brown says:

    Yes they let the states control their elections but they also created the Electoral College so that the President would not be elected by the popular vote.

  3. oldgulph says:

    The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach. It preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

    The Republic is not in any danger from National Popular Vote. It has nothing to do with direct democracy.

    Under National Popular Vote, citizens would not rule directly but, instead, continue to elect the President by a majority of Electoral College votes, to represent them and conduct the business of government in the periods between elections.

    2/3rds of the states and people have been just spectators to the presidential elections. That’s more than 85 million voters.

    States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election.

    Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution– “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

  4. oldgulph says:

    Under the current system, the 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States, and a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in just these 11 biggest states — that is, a mere 26% of the nation’s votes.

    But the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

    Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states in 2004, the highest levels of popular support , hardly overwhelming, were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
    * Texas (62% Republican),
    * New York (59% Democratic),
    * Georgia (58% Republican),
    * North Carolina (56% Republican),
    * Illinois (55% Democratic),
    * California (55% Democratic), and
    * New Jersey (53% Democratic).

    In addition, the margins generated by the nation’s largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
    * Texas — 1,691,267 Republican
    * New York — 1,192,436 Democratic
    * Georgia — 544,634 Republican
    * North Carolina — 426,778 Republican
    * Illinois — 513,342 Democratic
    * California — 1,023,560 Democratic
    * New Jersey — 211,826 Democratic

    To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

  5. Judy Brown says:

    This plan makes the Electoral College irrelevant. Candidates will only visit state with the largest populations. It turns our Republic into a democracy.

  6. oldgulph says:

    In Pennsylvania, the National Popular Vote bill has been introduced in the Senate (SB 1116), too.

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