Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Never Went To College

They're still counting the votes in the Presidential election.  Hillary Clinton is now ahead by over 2 million votes (so she has a plurality but not a majority).  I still don't get where all these votes are coming from and why they're taking so long to count.

It's unlikely new votes will overturn any single state. Of the states Trump won, the closest is Michigan, and he's still ahead by 12,000 votes there.  Though if there are a bunch of outstanding votes from Detroit, who knows?  He'd still have a reasonable lead in the Electoral College even if he lost Michigan.

Which brings us to EC news.  There's a claim that at least six Electors are planning to not vote for the candidate their state chose. (The linked article, if I read it correctly, implies these are Trump electors, but wouldn't it make more sense that these people are Democrats?--is the reporter a Hillary fan who's messing with us?)  If the Electoral College vote were closer, faithless Electors would be a mind-bogglingly huge deal.

One Elector says:

The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College as the last line of defense, and I think we must do all that we can ensure that we have a Reasonable Republican* candidate who shares our American values.

I'm not entirely sure why the Founders created the Electoral College, though I'm guessing the reasons weren't that strongly related to the system as we have it today.

Many are saying this election will make people look at changing how we elect Presidents.  Perhaps, but scrapping the Electoral College would require constitutional reform, and I can't imagine small states would agree to give up the extra power this system confers upon them.

There are end-runs around the Electoral College that don't require constitutional amendments, but the point here is that it's mostly the losers who want to change the system. (I don't personally have any strong opinion on what to do either way.)  The irony is if they ever get the change they want, it may mean they lose in the other direction.

Actually, I'm wondering if there'll be a counter-reform movement.  Just who are all these Electors who think they can ignore the will of the people?  States can set their own rules, so maybe they'll make a serious fine for Electors who don't vote as the people direct them--say, a million dollars, that they must pay and no one else?  Or real jail time--how about a year in the big house?

The only reform I want is a system where votes are counted faster. I don't like the idea of boxes of uncounted votes lying around in a close election.  If they're not all counted within 24 hours, toss 'em.  Or how about this?  Any vote not counted the night of the election becomes less and less potent each day.  After 24 hours, it's counted as half a vote, then a third of a vote, then a quarter vote, and so on.  That'll light a fire under the vote counters.

*"Reasonable" is capitalized in the article.  I don't know if the Elector told the reporter to do this, or if "Reasonable Republican" is some sort of trademarked thing.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Leaving aside the parts of the article that are pure speculation, the electors whose opinions are quoted (or summarized) in the article appear to be Trump electors who are planning to defect to a non-Trump Republican.

So this would decrease Trump's vote without increasing Clinton's. If enough of them do it, we're back to the House of Representatives scenario, and given all the kiss-kiss make-up between Trump and Ryan in the past couple weeks, I think it's virtually certain that Trump would end up elected by the House.

The final sentence is historically wrong -- six is the record for faithless presidential electors (not counting 1872, of course), but twenty-three Virginia electors refused to vote for their party's Vice-Presidential pick in 1836, forcing the Senate to pick the Vice-President.

12:20 PM, November 23, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When reading the latest Time Magazine, I found myself channeling Columbus Guy when I came across a paragraph decrying Bannon's appointment as chief White House strategist. The author is horrified at the prospect of Bannon occupying the "role once held by the storied likes of David Axelrod, Karl Rove and Ed Meese."

Because, as we all remember, the media considered Karl Rove and Ed Meese to be such respectable, stand-up guys.

12:24 PM, November 23, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a question. Did more people vote in this election or in 2012? A lot of people thought the voters stayed home, but maybe that wasn't the problem.

6:01 PM, November 23, 2016  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

In absolute numbers, more in 2016 than 2012, but as a rate, it 2016 was lower.

From Wikipedia's excellent article: "It is estimated that 134.5 million Americans cast a ballot in 2016. Considering a voting age population (VAP) of 251.1 million people ... this a turnout rate of 53.7% VAP.... Voting turnout percentage was down compared to 2008 (58.2% VAP) and 2012 (54.9% VAP), but more votes were cast in the 2016 election than any prior election due to an increase in the voting population."

6:26 PM, November 23, 2016  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Cool trivia question, based on the Wikipedia article: Most presidents have held prior elected office, while others (Eisenhower, Grant) had military experience. Before his election, Trump never held elected office and never was in the military. Name all previous presidents for whom this was true.

6:30 PM, November 23, 2016  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

I believe I read a story that claimed he was the first. (And the first since George Washington to decline pay; meaningless but curious that no one else has done so.)

LAGuy, perhaps votes not cast on election day could count as 3/5 of a vote.

7:28 PM, November 23, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I'm pretty sure most President served in the military. I suppose of the few that didn't, some of them were appointed to office, but were never elected, like Taft or Hoover.

10:50 PM, November 23, 2016  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Hoover was Secretary of Commerce for almost eight years, and held various other appointed positions, but never held elected office before becoming presidenct.

Taft had held a judgeship -- but it was an elected judgeship. (He was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Superior Court of Cincinnati in 1887, but then in 1888 he ran for a full five-year term and won.)

So Hoover was the only president before Trump who neither held elective office nor served in the military before becoming president.

12:31 AM, November 24, 2016  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

There are always folks who want to eliminate the electoral college completely. As you point out, the calls become loudest when someone loses a close election, but even between elections there are plenty who find it an anachronism (or simply don't understand its purpose).

But I'm surprised that there are not very many calls to keep the electoral college propoortions and eliminate the human element. There are good arguments in favor of the quantitative proportions are defensible (more power to small states) and good ones against it (one man one vote, or the fact that in the era of polling the EC gives more disproportionate power to swing states, not small states).

But there are no good arguments for electors being free. Sure, back when electors were chosen by name, it made sense: the voters in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, might reasonably say "We have never met the politicians who are running for President, but we trust Bob Landers, our State Legislator, so we will appoint him an Elector. Bob will then travel to faraway places and meet the candidates, and then wisely cast his vote for whoever will most benefit our fine County."

But now that electors are invisible and unnamed, how can it be defended? If you want Jill Stein to become president, why would you vote for an anonymous citizen who will probably vote for Jill Stein? Just imagine if ColumbusGuy cast a vote for an elector who then turned around and voted for Kasich....

12:47 AM, November 24, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a compromise, and hand out one Elector per district. It wouldn't require a constitutional amendment and it's already done in Nebraska and Maine. Also, it would make Democrats truly appreciate the Electoral College as it works today.

1:49 AM, November 24, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many late votes are the result of vote challenges. I agree with LAG that what the founders wanted with the EC doesn't really amount to a hill of beans now and is irrelevant.

Though it eems like the true intent of the EC was really thwarted in the late 19th century when all these western low population states were added (largely for political reasons important at the time) rather than fewer bigger states thus throwing the Senate and the EC out of whack.

The EC of course is like the filibuster- you are for it when it helps you and against when it doesn't.

4:22 AM, November 24, 2016  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Can we talk about something important, like repealing the 17th Amendment?

5:21 AM, November 24, 2016  
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