Rossweisse
RIP Rossweisse, HellHost and long-time Shipmate.
Please see the thread in All Saints remembering her.

The fairness of the Electoral College and other election processes

edited October 26 in Purgatory
This discussion was created from comments split from: If Trump loses by a landslide ....
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Comments

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But there again he lost by a landslide in the last election.

    No, he did not. Not unless you reinvent some contest other than the one he was participating in, with a different scoring system to the one everyone knew was going to be used.

    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    edited October 18
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    I agree with @orfeo. The US presidential election is not run on a direct universal suffrage basis and the existing arrangements appear to be in little dispute.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But there again he lost by a landslide in the last election.

    No, he did not. Not unless you reinvent some contest other than the one he was participating in, with a different scoring system to the one everyone knew was going to be used.

    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    Just to keep things precise, there is no gerrymandering in a Presidential election. The boundaries are determined by state borders, which have not been subject to redrawing for political purposes since the Civil War, if memory serves.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    Just to keep things precise, there is no gerrymandering in a Presidential election. The boundaries are determined by state borders, which have not been subject to redrawing for political purposes since the Civil War, if memory serves.

    Largely correct, but the boundaries between Oklahoma territory and the state of Texas were adjusted in the 1890s. This was done for political purposes, but not for the purposes of electoral politics. On the other hand, the drawing of state boundaries in the post-Civil War years was highly political. The U.S. has two Dakotas because the Republicans wanted to get four Senators out of the territory instead of two.

    If a state subdivides its electoral votes by Congressional District it could, theoretically, gerrymander the presidential election. The only two states that do this are Maine and Nebraska and they have two few Congressional Districts to do this effectively.

    On the other hand, one could argue that the electoral college is itself a form of gerrymandering, designed to facilitate minority rule in the face of a contrary electorate.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    I agree with @orfeo. The US presidential election is not run on a direct universal suffrage basis and the existing arrangements appear to be in little dispute.

    Indeed, they're undemocratic.
  • tclune wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But there again he lost by a landslide in the last election.

    No, he did not. Not unless you reinvent some contest other than the one he was participating in, with a different scoring system to the one everyone knew was going to be used.

    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    Just to keep things precise, there is no gerrymandering in a Presidential election. The boundaries are determined by state borders, which have not been subject to redrawing for political purposes since the Civil War, if memory serves.

    That is only directly true. Indirectly it is very far from true.

    Just to be clear, whatever one thinks of the electoral college system it isn't one designed or hijacked by either party for advantage and thus, with the few exceptions of Congressional District allocation of EC votes, there isn't a way to directly gerrymander the presidential race.

    However, the means of electing the electoral college is very much in the hands of the States. Several state legislators are massively skewed by gerrymandering. With such power (plus the governorship, usually) it is possible to have profound effects on the presidential election.

    The states control who gets to vote, how easy or difficult it is to register to vote, what the rules are for mail-in voting, how many polling places there are per county etc. etc...

    All of which can be, and very often has been, used to suppress voters and swing marginal states. In a close race, a single state can decide the election.

    It is true that the Supreme Court gifted the 2000 election to Bush by making up new law. It is also true that hundreds of thousands of African Americans were prevented from voting in that election by an outrageous purging or the electoral roll.*

    Moreover the Russian interference is not insignificant. If you read the Mueller report (I have) there's a helluva lot of evidence that it was a long way from a free and fair election. However, it could be much, much worse. Many states use proprietary voting machines which have repeatedly been shown to be vulnerable to hacking. Mueller found no evidence of direct vote tampering. However, he wasn't allowed to look for it. Nor has anyone else been allowed to and Trump has defunded election security programs. If you listen to experts they will tell you three things:
    1) There's no direct evidence but it has never been looked at.
    2) Voting machines are extremely vulnerable to tampering
    3) Russia interfered in the election in other ways.

    So yeah, it is certainly a reasonable assumption that the election system is open to significant abuse, possibly including actually fixing a result.

    AFZ

    IIRC (and it's been a while, so I might have got it wrong) it went something like this:
    1) Convicted felons can't vote in Florida
    2) The State put together lists of 'possible felons' from various sources including other states. The vast majority weren't felons
    3) All of these people were removed from the roll with a right to easily be reinstated if they appealed
    4) None of them were told
    5) When they found out they couldn't vote, it was election day and too late to do anything about it...
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But there again he lost by a landslide in the last election.

    No, he did not. Not unless you reinvent some contest other than the one he was participating in, with a different scoring system to the one everyone knew was going to be used.

    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    And you explain your own process for selecting a Prime Minister, how exactly?

    The US does indeed have a problem with gerrymandering, but not in the Presidential election. Not unless you completely redefine what gerrymandering actually is.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    I note that Trump won 30 states in 2016. Out of 50.

    See? We can redefine the contest again (maybe paying attention to the fact that the USA is a federation) and frame the result a different way.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    If you want an undemocratic, rigged, legislative chamber, you need look no further than the House of Lords. You can look a bit further and find the Canadian Senate. From what Alan Creswell has said, electorates for the House of Commons are gerrymandered, with substantially fewer voters in seats in the Scottish Highlands than those in much of England.

    Yes, there is some rigging in the Electoral College, where each State, no matter how small, is guaranteed a minimum of 3 votes - one for a Representative and 2 for the Senators returned by that State. From memory a half dozen or so States return that number. Unfair, yes, but that's a price of a federal structure.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    I agree with @orfeo. The US presidential election is not run on a direct universal suffrage basis and the existing arrangements appear to be in little dispute.

    Indeed, they're undemocratic.

    Direct universal suffrage /= democracy.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    If you want an undemocratic, rigged, legislative chamber, you need look no further than the House of Lords. You can look a bit further and find the Canadian Senate. From what Alan Creswell has said, electorates for the House of Commons are gerrymandered, with substantially fewer voters in seats in the Scottish Highlands than those in much of England.
    That depends on definition of 'gerrymander'. The UK constituency boundaries are largely historical, with review and very occasional revision by a politically independent commission. Are those boundaries perfect? Of course not (what system could be?), and geography creates some anomalies when trying to divide a nation of such wide diversity into 650 regions of approximately equal population and we can spend a fair bit of time looking at the anomalies and reach the conclusion that within the constraints of the system it's an imperfect solution but other solutions aren't significantly better. But, the boundaries don't get shifted around by a sitting government to their benefit come the next election - which is how I would describe gerrymandering, the boundaries would be defined to benefit one party over others rather than just being less than perfect by whatever criteria you use (eg: equality of population).

    I don't know details of the Canadian Senate, but entirely agree that the Lords is significantly lacking in democratic accountability. Again, there's an entire thread or ten we could have about how we might reform the Lords (or even if we should), but no one can deny that it's a chamber which none of us get a direct say in who sits there.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But there again he lost by a landslide in the last election.

    No, he did not. Not unless you reinvent some contest other than the one he was participating in, with a different scoring system to the one everyone knew was going to be used.

    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    And you explain your own process for selecting a Prime Minister, how exactly?

    The US does indeed have a problem with gerrymandering, but not in the Presidential election. Not unless you completely redefine what gerrymandering actually is.

    Conservative – 13,941,086 votes
    Labour – 10,292,354
    Liberal Democrat – 3,675,342
    Scottish National Party – 1,242,380

    Share of 650 seats

    Conservative 43.6%
    Labour 32.2%
    Liberal Democrat 11.5%
    Scottish National Party 3.9%

    I don't know if the winning party's seats have not represented the largest popular vote. My money says not.

    I don't think we do ANY of this.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited October 19
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But there again he lost by a landslide in the last election.

    No, he did not. Not unless you reinvent some contest other than the one he was participating in, with a different scoring system to the one everyone knew was going to be used.

    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    And you explain your own process for selecting a Prime Minister, how exactly?

    The US does indeed have a problem with gerrymandering, but not in the Presidential election. Not unless you completely redefine what gerrymandering actually is.

    Conservative – 13,941,086 votes
    Labour – 10,292,354
    Liberal Democrat – 3,675,342
    Scottish National Party – 1,242,380

    Share of 650 seats

    Conservative 43.6%
    Labour 32.2%
    Liberal Democrat 11.5%
    Scottish National Party 3.9%

    I don't know if the winning party's seats have not represented the largest popular vote. My money says not.

    I don't think we do ANY of this.

    Do you not understand how your own system works? The total figures you cited are completely irrelevant to the results. There is simply no way in which the total popular vote across the UK leads to the selection of the Prime Minister, and doing things like comparing the SNP vote in Scotland to the Conservative vote across the whole of the UK is a nonsense.

    You're hardly the first person to engage in such nonsense, but that doesn't make it any less nonsensical. The national vote in the UK is no more a meaningful statistic than it is in the US.

    Next you'll be telling me the results of tennis matches by telling me how many points each player won. It's a fundamental problem of confusing a particular statistic that doesn't determine a result with the rules of how the contest is actually determined.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    If you want an undemocratic, rigged, legislative chamber, you need look no further than the House of Lords. You can look a bit further and find the Canadian Senate. From what Alan Creswell has said, electorates for the House of Commons are gerrymandered, with substantially fewer voters in seats in the Scottish Highlands than those in much of England.
    That depends on definition of 'gerrymander'. The UK constituency boundaries are largely historical, with review and very occasional revision by a politically independent commission. Are those boundaries perfect? Of course not (what system could be?), and geography creates some anomalies when trying to divide a nation of such wide diversity into 650 regions of approximately equal population and we can spend a fair bit of time looking at the anomalies and reach the conclusion that within the constraints of the system it's an imperfect solution but other solutions aren't significantly better. But, the boundaries don't get shifted around by a sitting government to their benefit come the next election - which is how I would describe gerrymandering, the boundaries would be defined to benefit one party over others rather than just being less than perfect by whatever criteria you use (eg: equality of population).

    I don't know details of the Canadian Senate, but entirely agree that the Lords is significantly lacking in democratic accountability. Again, there's an entire thread or ten we could have about how we might reform the Lords (or even if we should), but no one can deny that it's a chamber which none of us get a direct say in who sits there.

    Out of curiosity, @Alan Cresswell , does the UK (or any constitutent part of the UK) have any rules/laws about determining the boundaries of constituencies?

    These days I think most Australian jurisdictions have some laws that guide the electoral commission, including requirements that the difference in voting population between electorates not exceed a certain margin (based on census and/or projection to the next election).
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    edited October 19
    orfeo wrote: »
    Out of curiosity, @Alan Cresswell , does the UK (or any constitutent part of the UK) have any rules/laws about determining the boundaries of constituencies?

    Not @Alan Cresswell , but you could start here.

    (And yes, they are of course open to gerrymandering).
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Out of curiosity, @Alan Cresswell , does the UK (or any constitutent part of the UK) have any rules/laws about determining the boundaries of constituencies?

    Not @Alan Cresswell , but you could start here.

    (And yes, they are of course open to gerrymandering).

    Well, that's quite interesting, not least because it seems they've updated the rules relatively recently to be a lot more similar to Australian ones.

    I don't know if we have any geographical size limits anywhere. Certainly, at the national level some of the electorates are absolutely enormous.

    Though reportedly we only have the third-largest in the world.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited October 19
    Gee D wrote: »
    If you want an undemocratic, rigged, legislative chamber, you need look no further than the House of Lords. You can look a bit further and find the Canadian Senate. From what Alan Creswell has said, electorates for the House of Commons are gerrymandered, with substantially fewer voters in seats in the Scottish Highlands than those in much of England.
    That depends on definition of 'gerrymander'. The UK constituency boundaries are largely historical, with review and very occasional revision by a politically independent commission. Are those boundaries perfect? Of course not (what system could be?), and geography creates some anomalies when trying to divide a nation of such wide diversity into 650 regions of approximately equal population and we can spend a fair bit of time looking at the anomalies and reach the conclusion that within the constraints of the system it's an imperfect solution but other solutions aren't significantly better. But, the boundaries don't get shifted around by a sitting government to their benefit come the next election - which is how I would describe gerrymandering, the boundaries would be defined to benefit one party over others rather than just being less than perfect by whatever criteria you use (eg: equality of population).

    I don't know details of the Canadian Senate, but entirely agree that the Lords is significantly lacking in democratic accountability. Again, there's an entire thread or ten we could have about how we might reform the Lords (or even if we should), but no one can deny that it's a chamber which none of us get a direct say in who sits there.

    You are of course right about the origin of the terminology. What I was referring to was a deliberate over-representation provided to some electors by the drawing of boundaries.

    The Canadian Senate consists of Senators appointed by the Governor General (and of course that means by the Prime Minister of the day) until they turn 75. Could be worse - from memory it used be for life.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But there again he lost by a landslide in the last election.

    No, he did not. Not unless you reinvent some contest other than the one he was participating in, with a different scoring system to the one everyone knew was going to be used.

    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    And you explain your own process for selecting a Prime Minister, how exactly?

    The US does indeed have a problem with gerrymandering, but not in the Presidential election. Not unless you completely redefine what gerrymandering actually is.

    Conservative – 13,941,086 votes
    Labour – 10,292,354
    Liberal Democrat – 3,675,342
    Scottish National Party – 1,242,380

    Share of 650 seats

    Conservative 43.6%
    Labour 32.2%
    Liberal Democrat 11.5%
    Scottish National Party 3.9%

    I don't know if the winning party's seats have not represented the largest popular vote. My money says not.

    I don't think we do ANY of this.

    1951
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    The legislative basis for parliamentary constituencies is The Parliamentary Constituencies Act, 1986 (as amended).
  • orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But there again he lost by a landslide in the last election.

    No, he did not. Not unless you reinvent some contest other than the one he was participating in, with a different scoring system to the one everyone knew was going to be used.

    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    And you explain your own process for selecting a Prime Minister, how exactly?

    The US does indeed have a problem with gerrymandering, but not in the Presidential election. Not unless you completely redefine what gerrymandering actually is.

    Conservative – 13,941,086 votes
    Labour – 10,292,354
    Liberal Democrat – 3,675,342
    Scottish National Party – 1,242,380

    Share of 650 seats

    Conservative 43.6%
    Labour 32.2%
    Liberal Democrat 11.5%
    Scottish National Party 3.9%

    I don't know if the winning party's seats have not represented the largest popular vote. My money says not.

    I don't think we do ANY of this.

    Do you not understand how your own system works? The total figures you cited are completely irrelevant to the results. There is simply no way in which the total popular vote across the UK leads to the selection of the Prime Minister, and doing things like comparing the SNP vote in Scotland to the Conservative vote across the whole of the UK is a nonsense.

    You're hardly the first person to engage in such nonsense, but that doesn't make it any less nonsensical. The national vote in the UK is no more a meaningful statistic than it is in the US.

    Next you'll be telling me the results of tennis matches by telling me how many points each player won. It's a fundamental problem of confusing a particular statistic that doesn't determine a result with the rules of how the contest is actually determined.

    This is all true, but...

    If you do win way more points in a tennis match, but lose the match, then you're likely to feel pissed off that you won your points at the 'wrong' times.

    In the same way, FPTP, and the Electoral College systems mean that lots of voters feel irritated that they're not properly represented in a system where the 'scoring' is skewed (or feel forced to vote for a more mainstream party over their genuine preference).

    Of course, this isn't what @Martin54 has said or is arguing, but I do understand the emotional reaction behind it. Knowing how one's one system works is one thing. Having the opinion that said system is reasonable and fair is something else.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited October 19
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But there again he lost by a landslide in the last election.

    No, he did not. Not unless you reinvent some contest other than the one he was participating in, with a different scoring system to the one everyone knew was going to be used.

    Sorry? But yeah, he won in a gerrymandered, banana republic, rigged election.

    And you explain your own process for selecting a Prime Minister, how exactly?

    The US does indeed have a problem with gerrymandering, but not in the Presidential election. Not unless you completely redefine what gerrymandering actually is.

    Conservative – 13,941,086 votes
    Labour – 10,292,354
    Liberal Democrat – 3,675,342
    Scottish National Party – 1,242,380

    Share of 650 seats

    Conservative 43.6%
    Labour 32.2%
    Liberal Democrat 11.5%
    Scottish National Party 3.9%

    I don't know if the winning party's seats have not represented the largest popular vote. My money says not.

    I don't think we do ANY of this.

    Do you not understand how your own system works? The total figures you cited are completely irrelevant to the results. There is simply no way in which the total popular vote across the UK leads to the selection of the Prime Minister, and doing things like comparing the SNP vote in Scotland to the Conservative vote across the whole of the UK is a nonsense.

    You're hardly the first person to engage in such nonsense, but that doesn't make it any less nonsensical. The national vote in the UK is no more a meaningful statistic than it is in the US.

    Next you'll be telling me the results of tennis matches by telling me how many points each player won. It's a fundamental problem of confusing a particular statistic that doesn't determine a result with the rules of how the contest is actually determined.

    This is all true, but...

    If you do win way more points in a tennis match, but lose the match, then you're likely to feel pissed off that you won your points at the 'wrong' times.

    In the same way, FPTP, and the Electoral College systems mean that lots of voters feel irritated that they're not properly represented in a system where the 'scoring' is skewed (or feel forced to vote for a more mainstream party over their genuine preference).

    Of course, this isn't what @Martin54 has said or is arguing, but I do understand the emotional reaction behind it. Knowing how one's one system works is one thing. Having the opinion that said system is reasonable and fair is something else.

    And I understand the emotional reaction as well. But... well for starters, no professional tennis player would ever go down the feeling pissed off line of thinking because they all understand that not all points in a tennis match are equally important.

    Just as professionals in various other sports with tries or goals or whatever understand that there are any number of other statistics that you might win while still losing overall if you don't convert those performance statistics into the things that decide the outcome.

    Returning to politics, the emotional reaction is based on some highly questionable assumptions. Who exactly decided that the overall national vote was so important? Most of the time in my experience it's whoever thinks that this figure says they deserved victory/more seats than they actually got.

    But there's nothing inherently obvious in an argument that someone who is supposed to represent you locally should be determined by a nationwide vote. It certainly seems bizarre to look at the national vote for the Scottish National Party when the SNP has absolutely no intention of representing people across the whole of the UK. The first clue's in the name. Unless you move to a system where there IS no "local representation", in which case you find even more focus on London, far and away the biggest city, than there is now.

    And when it comes to the USA, shouldn't a federal country have a system that reflects its federal nature? That's kind of the point, after all. One of the very goals of a federal system is to recognise the distinct character of different areas, and to protect smaller parts from being dominated by larger ones. I'm sure there are arguments for saying that a single nationwide vote can be used, but the notion that it's somehow inherently fairer pretty much depends on the perspective of being in a big city and assuming that that ought to make you more important than all those communities in flyover country that you've never visited.

    And the result would just be to get the politicians to focus all of their attention on a different small set of locations to the ones that they currently focus on.

    All this talk about how Trump lost the national vote completely ignores that he won 30 states and that the quantum of the loss basically represents the result in California. He lost the national vote by just under 3 million votes, and he lost California by over 4 million.

    It's already the biggest state with the most electoral votes, so has plenty of power, and now we have an argument that just increases the power of California... essentially based on the notion that we should completely ignore the existence of a thing called 'California' and throw its votes into a generic melting pot as if there's no difference between California and anywhere else.

    Is that actually fair to people in Wyoming, Hawaii or Delaware whose opinions would just get completely swamped? I'm certainly not convinced.

    If you want to question the assumption that a national vote is fair, just look at Brexit. English opinions are capable of completely swamping Scottish and Northern Irish ones. Is that fairer? Depends who you ask.
  • edited October 19
    The popular vote is important because it shows the proportion of voters who support the system's outcome. It's reasonably frequent in Canada that elections in some ridings (federal) and constituencies (provincial) are won by someone who gets 40%, sometimes less of the popular vote. If you've only 2 political parties it isn't the same of course.

    The federation discussion is interesting. Canada is very decentralized. Which is why we have so much heat about western alienation and Quebec separation every 15-30 years. The UK is highly centralized in comparison. The USA is confusing to me. Some aspects appear quite decentralized and others highly central. The method to elect the federal gov't has the appearance of unfairness and being rigged because the votes are arranged in most? places to restrict certain groups ability to even cast a ballot. Waiting even 1 hour to vote is unusual here. We're understanding that gov't moves polling places and closes them to interfere with voting. Plus voting list obstacles. Normally about 10 minutes here and if you're not on the list you apply at the polling place and get to vote. (We've actually 2 elections underway right now. Provincial and civic&school boards)
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Yes, there is some rigging in the Electoral College, where each State, no matter how small, is guaranteed a minimum of 3 votes - one for a Representative and 2 for the Senators returned by that State. From memory a half dozen or so States return that number. Unfair, yes, but that's a price of a federal structure.

    No, there's nothing inherent in a federal structure that requires something like the electoral college. I'm not aware of it's use in any other federal system. It seems to be an American anomaly, not something inherent in a federated government. In other words, it's a choice, not a price.
    orfeo wrote: »
    Returning to politics, the emotional reaction is based on some highly questionable assumptions. Who exactly decided that the overall national vote was so important?

    That's the underlying premise of democracy, that the side with the most votes gets to enact its agenda.
    orfeo wrote: »
    And when it comes to the USA, shouldn't a federal country have a system that reflects its federal nature? That's kind of the point, after all. One of the very goals of a federal system is to recognise the distinct character of different areas, and to protect smaller parts from being dominated by larger ones.

    I see what you did there. You're euphemising minority rule as "protect[ ing ] smaller parts from being dominated by larger ones". I'm not sure why you think the best way to "protect the smaller parts" is to give them the power to enforce their agenda against the will of the numerical majority. Can you flesh this out a bit?
    orfeo wrote: »
    I'm sure there are arguments for saying that a single nationwide vote can be used, but the notion that it's somehow inherently fairer pretty much depends on the perspective of being in a big city and assuming that that ought to make you more important than all those communities in flyover country that you've never visited.

    Again, if letting the majority set the governing agenda is a flaw it's a flaw inherent in democracy, not any particular electoral system.
    orfeo wrote: »
    It's already the biggest state with the most electoral votes, so has plenty of power, and now we have an argument that just increases the power of California... essentially based on the notion that we should completely ignore the existence of a thing called 'California' and throw its votes into a generic melting pot as if there's no difference between California and anywhere else.

    Is that actually fair to people in Wyoming, Hawaii or Delaware whose opinions would just get completely swamped? I'm certainly not convinced.

    Conversely one could ask why you think the slightly less than three million people living in Wyoming, Hawaii, and Delaware should be dictating policy to the nearly forty million people living in California. An even better question would be why Wyoming, Hawaii, and Delaware are assumed to have a lot of common interests based on their low population. I'd argue that Delaware probably has much more in common, both culturally and policy-wise, with it's neighbors Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania than it does with either Wyoming or Hawaii, despite Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania being more populous than Delaware.

    What your argument boils down to is that small states should be given disproportionate power because they will use that power to benefit themselves. There's nothing inherent in having a low population that would seem to justify granting power to govern over more populous areas. "I want power" is a demand, not an argument.
  • It would be helpful if we Americans could ever get back to seeing ourselves as in cooperation with one another, as opposed to being in vicious competition.

    For example, it does not benefit California if (say) various kinds of agriculture/mining/forestry that go on in so-called "flyover" country go straight to hell as the result of laws, or electing people who make laws, that send those industries down the toilet. And California (or any other state) is not capable of supplying all its own needs without reference to any other state. But it is entirely possible, under a popular-vote-only system, for Californians (forgive me for picking on my birth state) to accidentally crush some necessary industry/activity in Wyoming (or wherever) out of simple ignorance. Your average voter isn't going to take thought for people and issues that seem remote and irrelevant to them--and is unlikely to realize the consequences of a bad move until long after it's too late to reverse it.

    The point of the electoral college is to avoid having certain states completely swamp other states by population. It's the same point of having two-and-only-two votes in the Senate (but not House) for every state, based purely on statehood.

    If we were a tiny country with pretty much the same geographical, climate and resource situation everywhere, in all our parts, we could probably go straight popular vote without problems. But we aren't. And I don't see that it would be a good idea to hand over decisions about (say) Atlantic hurricane aid, wheat and corn farming, or Midwest flood prevention matters to Californians with no check in place. Anymore than it would be sensible to go to a two votes per state system regardless of population, which would end with people in Missouri making decisions about Californian water needs, transit, and earthquake/tsunami preparation. Or about the Mexican border, which is considerably further away from us than from them.

    Better to try to steer down the middle of the road.
  • It would be helpful if we Americans could ever get back to seeing ourselves as in cooperation with one another, as opposed to being in vicious competition.

    For example, it does not benefit California if (say) various kinds of agriculture/mining/forestry that go on in so-called "flyover" country go straight to hell as the result of laws, or electing people who make laws, that send those industries down the toilet. And California (or any other state) is not capable of supplying all its own needs without reference to any other state. But it is entirely possible, under a popular-vote-only system, for Californians (forgive me for picking on my birth state) to accidentally crush some necessary industry/activity in Wyoming (or wherever) out of simple ignorance. Your average voter isn't going to take thought for people and issues that seem remote and irrelevant to them--and is unlikely to realize the consequences of a bad move until long after it's too late to reverse it.

    The point of the electoral college is to avoid having certain states completely swamp other states by population. It's the same point of having two-and-only-two votes in the Senate (but not House) for every state, based purely on statehood.

    If we were a tiny country with pretty much the same geographical, climate and resource situation everywhere, in all our parts, we could probably go straight popular vote without problems. But we aren't. And I don't see that it would be a good idea to hand over decisions about (say) Atlantic hurricane aid, wheat and corn farming, or Midwest flood prevention matters to Californians with no check in place. Anymore than it would be sensible to go to a two votes per state system regardless of population, which would end with people in Missouri making decisions about Californian water needs, transit, and earthquake/tsunami preparation. Or about the Mexican border, which is considerably further away from us than from them.

    Better to try to steer down the middle of the road.

    A very good argument for disunion and reformation of smaller countries along economic lines.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    For example, it does not benefit California if (say) various kinds of agriculture/mining/forestry that go on in so-called "flyover" country go straight to hell as the result of laws, or electing people who make laws, that send those industries down the toilet. And California (or any other state) is not capable of supplying all its own needs without reference to any other state. But it is entirely possible, under a popular-vote-only system, for Californians (forgive me for picking on my birth state) to accidentally crush some necessary industry/activity in Wyoming (or wherever) out of simple ignorance. Your average voter isn't going to take thought for people and issues that seem remote and irrelevant to them--and is unlikely to realize the consequences of a bad move until long after it's too late to reverse it.

    Again, we're not talking about passive protection but assigning governing authority. I'm not sure why it's assumed that Wyomingites are less likely to accidentally crush some necessary industry/activity in California than the other way around.

    It should be noted that the present electoral college system also seems to favor some large states, with pandering to local interests in Ohio and Florida, but California or New York are as ignored as small, not very closely divided states like Vermont and Wyoming. I'm not sure why favoring Ohio over California or Wyoming is considered the optimal balance of power for the system, but apparently it is.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    Again, we're not talking about passive protection but assigning governing authority. I'm not sure why it's assumed that Wyomingites are less likely to accidentally crush some necessary industry/activity in California than the other way around.

    I rather think that this is because under no conceivable distribution of power would Wyoming end up with the steel fist of power with which to subdue Californians, whereas the nine most populous states outnumber the rest of the US.
    Crœsos wrote: »
    It should be noted that the present electoral college system also seems to favor some large states, with pandering to local interests in Ohio and Florida,

    That's a function of the winner-takes-all system of allocating a state's votes for president, although if you elected the president on strict proportional grounds, you might still get a milder version of it for control of the Senate.

    Governments attempting to bribe marginal constituencies to vote their way whilst taking their core support for granted and ignoring those constituencies that would never support them isn't exactly uncommon.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Again, we're not talking about passive protection but assigning governing authority. I'm not sure why it's assumed that Wyomingites are less likely to accidentally crush some necessary industry/activity in California than the other way around.

    I rather think that this is because under no conceivable distribution of power would Wyoming end up with the steel fist of power with which to subdue Californians, whereas the nine most populous states outnumber the rest of the US.

    It's called the U.S. Senate and someone obviously did conceive of it. Or, as you put it (in slightly different terms) 48.7% of the U.S. population controls 82% of the U.S. Senate. Or to be even more blunt, 18% of the U.S. population controls a working majority of the Senate. It should be noted that the Senate has a lot of powers not assigned to the more populist House of Representatives, like ratifying treaties, approving (or rejecting) judges, executive appointees, and military officer, etc.
  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    edited October 19
    When I moved to my new home I took no note of the politics of the area, which is almost solid Tory for MP, county, borough and parish council. Two parts of the constituency have more natural geographical links to another constituency which sometimes manages to be marginal, and would be more likely to return Labour MPs if those two parts (one mine) had remained as part of it. First election here, I researched to see if there were any useful way of tactical voting, and found out that the two areas had been deliberately moved to a constituency where they would make no difference, except, possibly, by removing the chance of Liberal Democrats getting in instead of the Tories. (Not sure how that worked.) The website I used used the word gerrymandered of the arrangement. We don't even have public transport to our council office, or a usable main road. It's that unnatural.
  • Penny S wrote: »
    The website I used used the word gerrymandered of the arrangement. We don't even have public transport to our council office, or a usable main road. It's that unnatural.

    There are competing desires when setting constituency boundaries. You would like to ensure that constituencies follow "natural" boundaries, because the people in a naturally-formed constituency are more likely to share common interests. You'd also like to have all your constituencies be the same size, so everyone was fairly represented.

    These two desires are not very compatible. Without knowing the details, it seems probable that the neighbouring constituency was too large, in terms of population, and had to be pruned at the edges. If you, knowing the details, tried to prune some similarly-sized parts out of the former constituency, do you think you would achieve a result that you consider preferable?
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    Returning to politics, the emotional reaction is based on some highly questionable assumptions. Who exactly decided that the overall national vote was so important?

    That's the underlying premise of democracy, that the side with the most votes gets to enact its agenda.
    That's not what @orfeo said, though. Again, "direct universal suffrage" /= democracy. Democracy may mean "the side with the most votes wins" but that basic idea quickly gains layers of complication at anything above the level of, say, a small committee.

    Universal suffrage is one way of implementing democracy but it's far from the only one.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited October 19
    Crœsos wrote: »
    That's the underlying premise of democracy, that the side with the most votes gets to enact its agenda.

    The most votes WHERE?

    The continuing insistence that there simply isn't a question as to how to group people in order to count their votes beggars belief.

    On one thread we've got Russ arguing that every single individual should get their own self-determination. Meanwhile on this thread we've got people arguing for complete erasure for any recognition of communities within a country of millions.

    Neither extreme makes the slightest sense to me.

    EDIT: Nor does your counterclaim that Wyoming, Hawaii and Delaware are somehow holding California over a barrel. Look at how many votes California has. Still way, way more.

    The argument is not simply that the side with most votes wins. The argument is that minorities should get out of the fucking way and stop being fucking annoying by having a point of view.

  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    The popular vote is important because it shows the proportion of voters who support the system's outcome.

    The popular vote where? The proportion of voters where?

  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    An even better question would be why Wyoming, Hawaii, and Delaware are assumed to have a lot of common interests based on their low population. I'd argue that Delaware probably has much more in common, both culturally and policy-wise, with it's neighbors Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania than it does with either Wyoming or Hawaii, despite Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania being more populous than Delaware.

    I made no claim that Wyoming, Hawaii and Delaware had a lot of common interests. I picked 3 states with small populations, and I deliberately picked them because of their major differences from each other.

    You're not intending to see any of them at all. Except maybe as an adjunct to larger neighbours.

  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host, Epiphanies Host
    We did have a thread about the fairness of the Electoral College System but I think it was on the old boards. I’ll try to dig it out. This tangent may be worth its own thread.

    Barnabas62
    Purgatory Host
  • orfeo wrote: »
    The popular vote is important because it shows the proportion of voters who support the system's outcome.

    The popular vote where? The proportion of voters where?

    In USA given this thread. I'm also interested in it for Canadian elections. Much the same way statistics make sports more interesting. Goals against average. Goals for average. That sort of thing.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    Yes, there is some rigging in the Electoral College, where each State, no matter how small, is guaranteed a minimum of 3 votes - one for a Representative and 2 for the Senators returned by that State. From memory a half dozen or so States return that number. Unfair, yes, but that's a price of a federal structure.

    No, there's nothing inherent in a federal structure that requires something like the electoral college. I'm not aware of it's use in any other federal system. It seems to be an American anomaly, not something inherent in a federated government. In other words, it's a choice, not a price.

    You'll notice that I said "a" price to pay - not "the" or "a necessary". Similarly, while there's no electoral college here, a price paid for federalism is the strong power which the smaller States have over changes to the Federal constitution.

    As an aside, I'm ashamed to say that I know more about the US constitutional system than I do of the Indian.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Universal suffrage is one way of implementing democracy but it's far from the only one.

    The Soviet Union had universal suffrage but was far from a democracy. There's a lot more needed.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited October 20
    orfeo wrote: »
    The popular vote is important because it shows the proportion of voters who support the system's outcome.

    The popular vote where? The proportion of voters where?

    In USA given this thread. I'm also interested in it for Canadian elections. Much the same way statistics make sports more interesting. Goals against average. Goals for average. That sort of thing.

    "Interesting" and "important" are not the same quality. Goals against average and goals for average completely fail to determine the result of a particular match, and in most sports the number of points awarded for a massive win are the same as for a close one.

    There are people here essentially arguing that when it comes to US presidential elections, we should abolish any notion of the number of matches won and just look at goal difference. Because apparently there should only be 1 match.
  • orfeo wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    The popular vote is important because it shows the proportion of voters who support the system's outcome.

    The popular vote where? The proportion of voters where?

    In USA given this thread. I'm also interested in it for Canadian elections. Much the same way statistics make sports more interesting. Goals against average. Goals for average. That sort of thing.

    "Interesting" and "important" are not the same quality. Goals against average and goals for average completely fail to determine the result of a particular match, and in most sports the number of points awarded for a massive win are the same as for a close one.

    There are people here essentially arguing that when it comes to US presidential elections, we should abolish any notion of the number of matches won and just look at goal difference. Because apparently there should only be 1 match.

    There's only one president for the whole country. Why should the election be considered a collection of matches? Make a case for that.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited October 20
    mousethief wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    orfeo wrote: »
    The popular vote is important because it shows the proportion of voters who support the system's outcome.

    The popular vote where? The proportion of voters where?

    In USA given this thread. I'm also interested in it for Canadian elections. Much the same way statistics make sports more interesting. Goals against average. Goals for average. That sort of thing.

    "Interesting" and "important" are not the same quality. Goals against average and goals for average completely fail to determine the result of a particular match, and in most sports the number of points awarded for a massive win are the same as for a close one.

    There are people here essentially arguing that when it comes to US presidential elections, we should abolish any notion of the number of matches won and just look at goal difference. Because apparently there should only be 1 match.

    There's only one president for the whole country. Why should the election be considered a collection of matches? Make a case for that.

    The case is essentially that you're a federation and maybe the intention is that the president is being chosen by the States, not by the people directly.

    A couple of months ago I saw a law review article (which is a few years old, I can't remember whether it was even pre-Trump) arguing that the push to have a single national vote - where a number of States have undertaken to ignore their own results in favour of the national outcome, with the plan being to implement this once the States that have signed on have enough electoral college votes to decide the result - might well be unconstitutional as things stand. Because the system is envisaged as each State having its say.

    Of course, you can change your constitution... though that process, too, is built on the notion that you're not a single population but a federal system. Any number of aspects of your constitution are built on the notion that you are the United States, bringing together what was previously a bunch of separate colonies (which is exactly the situation in Australia as well).

    So that's the essential question. Do you actually want to be a federation? How much do you want that reflected in your constitutional arrangements?

    In my experience, Americans often seem extremely quick to identify themselves not just as American but as from a State. There are pretty basic questions that need to be addressed about which identification is stronger. It's evidently a cultural thing and maybe it's changing, and maybe the degree to which someone's primary identification is "American" is itself determined by demographic considerations - maybe there are lots of city dwellers who have moved around the country a lot.

    If your primary conception of the President is that he's the "President of America", then a single popular vote of Americans might make a lot more sense than it does to someone whose conception is of the "President of the United States" and who sees a much smaller role for federal government because they see a State as the more fundamental unit of the arrangements.
  • @orfeo I'm sure you realise that the electoral college is a massive political issue right now, and that people will be making arguments about it in the context of the partisan divide on it over there. Level headed and bloodless analysis of democratic ways of doing things is difficult in those circumstances.

    I don't know how other people work these things, but I tend to argue from the result I want rather than working out what is the best position based upon the arguments I read. So, in deciding whether to put out the washing, foremost in my mind is not whether its going to rain, but whether I want to keep mucking around on the Ship of Fools.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    I don't know how other people work these things, but I tend to argue from the result I want rather than working out what is the best position based upon the arguments I read.

    In other words you are immune to actual arguments.

  • Pretty much... certainly as regards political issues surrounding partisan topics like the Electoral College, where the issue is not so much which system works best, but which system will get the outcome I want on other issues such as Supreme Court nominations and therefore a woman's right to choose what happens to her body.
    Of course, you can change your constitution... though that process, too, is built on the notion that you're not a single population but a federal system. Any number of aspects of your constitution are built on the notion that you are the United States, bringing together what was previously a bunch of separate colonies (which is exactly the situation in Australia as well).

    Point of Order: Only a small number of states were colonies of the British at the time the Constitution was drafted. I can't remember but I think it was thirteen.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Barnabas62 wrote: »
    We did have a thread about the fairness of the Electoral College System but I think it was on the old boards. I’ll try to dig it out. This tangent may be worth its own thread.

    The electoral college thread from eight years ago can be found here.
    orfeo wrote: »
    Crœsos wrote: »
    That's the underlying premise of democracy, that the side with the most votes gets to enact its agenda.

    The most votes WHERE?

    The continuing insistence that there simply isn't a question as to how to group people in order to count their votes beggars belief.

    Does it? I've noticed that a lot of folks who claim that people are people and should be treated equally suddenly get very big on the idea that people aren't just people but are tied to a geographically-determined identity and should be treated unequally when it comes to discussing the electoral college.
    orfeo wrote: »
    A couple of months ago I saw a law review article (which is a few years old, I can't remember whether it was even pre-Trump) arguing that the push to have a single national vote - where a number of States have undertaken to ignore their own results in favour of the national outcome, with the plan being to implement this once the States that have signed on have enough electoral college votes to decide the result - might well be unconstitutional as things stand. Because the system is envisaged as each State having its say.

    That's a highly dubious argument, since it's making the case that a state shouldn't be allowed to have its say (via its state legislature) in deciding to back the national outcome. Either states get to have their say or they don't. You can't switch it up mid-argument.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Pretty much... certainly as regards political issues surrounding partisan topics like the Electoral College, where the issue is not so much which system works best, but which system will get the outcome I want on other issues such as Supreme Court nominations and therefore a woman's right to choose what happens to her body.

    Yes. And that's half my point. The notion that the Electoral College is a "partisan issue" strikes me as crazy. And I've already said: "Who exactly decided that the overall national vote was so important? Most of the time in my experience it's whoever thinks that this figure says they deserved victory/more seats than they actually got."

    People wanting to change a system based on the result of maybe one election just strike me as staggeringly short-sighted. Not least because when the NEW system doesn't give them the result they think they deserve somewhere down the track, they'll want to change it again.

    How is that any different from gerrymandering? Is that not the very essence of gerrymandering, knowing the result you want to achieve and working backwards from there to set things up so that you achieve it?

    I acknowledge some people have wanted to change the Electoral College system for considerably longer. Nevertheless, the amount of noise about the issue sharply increased after 2016. And that seems to me like a spectacularly bad starting point as an argument for change of a constitutional system.

    Not least because it wrongly assumes that you can change one thing and then everything will be fine, ie you'll get the result you want. No. Because when the rules of the game change, the players will change how they play.

  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    That's a highly dubious argument, since it's making the case that a state shouldn't be allowed to have its say (via its state legislature) in deciding to back the national outcome. Either states get to have their say or they don't. You can't switch it up mid-argument.

    The question is whether saying "I completely abdicate having an opinion of my own" counts as having your say.

    If the plan for States to overrule their own voting populace in favour of a national vote ever actually gets implemented, I can certainly foresee litigation on the question.

  • It's an after effect of the Civil War, people changed from "The United States are" to "The United States is". Is the US one nation first, orxa collection of states first? Much of the Constitution is set up for the latter, but history since the 1860's and especially the New Deal and after have pushed it to the former.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    It's an after effect of the Civil War, people changed from "The United States are" to "The United States is". Is the US one nation first, orxa collection of states first? Much of the Constitution is set up for the latter, but history since the 1860's and especially the New Deal and after have pushed it to the former.

    I would tend to agree.

    There's also the simple fact that modern travel and modern technology have drastically altered the sphere that people imagine themselves belonging to. Once upon a time, the notion that one would ever travel to the opposite side of a country as large as Canada, the USA or Australia was unthinkable for many people. These days I feel slightly guilty that I've never been to the Northern Territory.
  • Yes, I am familiar with the NPV initiative. Unfortunately, such arguments will fail. A state can choose its electors how it wishes. Those states older than the 1830's often chose their electors through the state legislature until that time, not by popular vote.

    If you can have a popular vote in a state for the electoral college, you can have the National Popular Vote method too.
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