Lawmakers want to change presidential voting system

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The Electoral College — which in the past two decades has carried to victory U.S. Presidents Donald Trump (2016) and George W. Bush (2000) despite each losing the national popular vote — is being targeted by state legislators across the country, including some in Florida.

Rep. Joseph Geller, an Aventura Democrat, and Sen. Victor Torres, an Orlando Democrat, filed legislation in their respective chambers that would, if signed into law, bring Florida into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

The Compact does not seek to change the Constitution, which provides in Article II the authority for states to choose their own electors, but rather circumnavigate it with a process that essentially guarantees a popular vote.

Electoral College delegates typically vote for presidential candidates using a winner-take-all format, casting votes for whoever secured the popular-vote victory in the state. Under the Compact states still have a limited number of electoral votes that are exercised by members of each state’s delegates. Instead of voting for whoever won the state’s popular vote, the Compact requires participating electoral colleges to vote for the candidate who won the nationwide popular vote.

The proposed idea in practice would legally operate within the Constitution.

Presumably to not disturb election processes, the Compact would not be active until it reached the 270 electoral vote quota, which guarantees the necessary voting power to ensure a popular vote system. According to the Compact’s website, 11 states have passed the measure, totalling 165 electoral votes — just 105 votes shy of guaranteeing a popular vote process.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Geller and Torres discussed why they’re pushing the measures in Florida.

“This is not the way a modern society should be governing itself,” Geller said.

Geller said the current system disparages voters, giving more power-per-vote to less populated states. He gave the example of Wyoming, a state in which each voter gets “almost four times the weight for a single electoral vote” when compared to Florida, Geller said.

“That’s just not fair,” Geller said.

Also behind the initiative is the Florida League of Women Voters. Leading up to the measure, FLWV lobbyist Stephanie Owens said she worked with Geller’s and Torres’ offices on the legislation. Ownes said Wednesday that her group is behind the initiative because the current system infringes on voting rights.

“(The Electoral College) is inconsistent with one person one vote — which we all know is a bedrock to our democracy,” Owens said.

The House floor has read Geller’s bill (HB 367). Torres’ bill (SB 1374) received two committee referrals.

Danny McAuliffe

Danny is a contributor at He is a graduate of Fordham Law School and Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. Reach him at [email protected].


  • Andrew Nappi

    January 17, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    “Many people whine that using the Electoral College instead of the popular vote and majority rule is undemocratic. I’d say that they are absolutely right. Not deciding who will be the president by majority rule is not democracy. But the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure that we were a republic and not a democracy. In fact, the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution or any other of our founding documents.”- Walter Williams–perhaps-contempt-n2433778?utm_source=thdailypm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl_pm&newsletterad=

    • otto

      January 18, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      [The] difference between a democracy and a republic [is] the delegation of the government, the the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest.”
      In a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic, they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents.” – Madison

      The United States would be neither more nor less a “republic” if its chief executive is elected under the current 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 each separate state), under a district system (such as used by Maine and Nebraska), or under the proposed national popular vote system (in which the winner would be the candidate receiving the most popular votes among all 50 states and the District of Columbia) and the majority of Electoral College votes.

      Being a constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

      Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes (as the National Popular Vote bill would) would not make us a pure democracy.

      Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

      Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or democracy.

      The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

      The Constitution does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for how to award a state’s electoral votes

      The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency in 2020 to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

      The bill retains the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections, and uses the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. It ensures that every voter is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

      Every voter, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would matter in the state counts and national count.

  • Stephen Martin

    January 19, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, didn’t trust and were very afraid of a pure democracy. The word democracy is never mentioned in the Consitution or the Bill of Rights. They were concerned that a few states with large populations could control the government and trample on the rights of the less populous states. That is why they established the Electoral College.

    We see this today. If there were no Electoral College, all a candidate would have to do is win the west coast and the northeast states. The rest of the country would have no say. Candidates would only campaign in the larger states and would never go to the less populous states. It is important that the concerns of all citizens are heard.

    A pure democracy is like two wolves and a sheep deciding what is for dinner. This is why we have a Senate, where each state has the same number of representatives. It is all part of the checks and balances that the founders put in place.

    Removing the Electoral College would allow for mob rule and would go against everything the Consitution was put in place to protect.

    Read the Federalist Papers to get a better understanding of what the Founding Fathers envisioned for their “Perfect Union” and you will see that the Electoral College needs to, in fact, must remain.

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