October 3, 2006


Veto in California on Electoral College (The New York Times, 10/03/06)

In the end, only one vote mattered.

Saying it ran “counter to the tradition of our great nation,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill on Saturday that would have automatically allocated all the state’s 55 electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate received the national popular vote.

Funny how often the immigrants understand "our great nation" better than the natives.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 3, 2006 10:00 AM

It almost would have been worth Arnold signing this to see California Democrats have to spin two years from now why it's a good thing that Rudy or McCain have just picked up California's 55 electoral votes thanks to the new law (albeit it they may get them anyway under the current system).

Posted by: John at October 3, 2006 11:19 AM

If either party had any sense, they'd insist that California AND Texas pass laws that distribute Electoral votes by the number of Congressional districts in the state the candidate won. This is how Maine and Nebraska do it, though the latter has never been in the position to give the Dem candidate 1 Electoral vote.

Under that method, GWB would have gained at least 20 Electoral votes from CA, and Kerry would have gained at least 6 from TX. If every state that has multiple Congressional districts did this, GWB would have had the same winning margins in the Electoral college both times.

Posted by: Brad S at October 3, 2006 11:49 AM

An interstate compact to in effect kill the electoral college? Wouldn't that have been shot down by the Supreme Court in milliseconds?

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 3, 2006 2:30 PM


The Congressional district method of distributing Electoral votes is the best of all worlds. It dilutes the big state's votes and creates a situation where the campaign is truly national.

SCOTUS would have nothing to say about it.

Posted by: Brad S at October 3, 2006 4:10 PM

I don't think there would be any grounds for the Supreme Court to shoot down such a bill. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states that "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector." That's pretty much all it has to say on the question of how electors are selected.

In principle, it seems like the Constitution would allow a state legislature to allocate that state's EC votes on pretty much any basis they wanted. (It would be interesting to see what happened if some state tried passing a law that allocated its EC votes to one party regardless of popular vote results, though...)

Posted by: Kyle Haight at October 3, 2006 4:56 PM

It would be interesting to see what happened if some state tried passing a law that allocated its EC votes to one party regardless of popular vote results, though...

Exactly: it clearly subverts the intent of the Constitution. I also don't think they can change the law to allow selling EC votes to the highest bidder, or make them dependant on the outcome of the World Series, or even (as in this proposal) make them dependant on the votes of voters outside the jurisdiction of the state's electors.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 4, 2006 1:20 AM

Papaya, no it doesn't subvert the intent of the Constitution.

The Founders did not assume there'd even be political parties. The Founders expected that the typical scenario would be that the Electoral College would be gridlocked and that Congress would decide the Presidency. At that point, all the things you mentioned would come into play as per the usual vote jockeying.

Our system of deciding Presidents since 1800 has more or less thrown the Founders' intentions out the window. Read the history of the 12th Amendment.

The compact is perfectly within the Constitution.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 4, 2006 5:20 PM