Tag: Electoral College

How an anti-abortion, pro-TPP candidate can win the White House with only six electoral votes

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post is not an attorney and does not claim to be one.


In normal circumstances, a presidential candidate needs at least 270 electoral votes to win the office of President of the United States for a four-year term. However, in an election that is not normal, it is possible, although, based on recent opinion polling, highly unlikely, that one presidential candidate could end up winning the White House with only six electoral votes.

Any scenario of a presidential candidate winning the White House with less than 270 electoral votes would, per the provisions of the United States Constitution that govern the Electoral College process (mainly the 12th Amendment, although provisions in the 20th Amendment and the 23rd Amendment also govern the Electoral College process), involve no presidential candidate receiving 270 or more electoral votes. The 20th Amendment, among other things, sets the inauguration date for the President, and the 23rd Amendment gives the District of Columbia electoral votes, so the 12th Amendment is the most significant for the scenario that I’m about to describe. Here is the full text of the 12th Amendment:

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; — the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; — The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. — The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

NOTE: A portion of the 12th Amendment that was superseded by Section 3 of the 20th Amendment is depicted with strikethrough text.

Should no candidate receive an electoral college majority with at least three candidates receiving at least one electoral vote (either by being a candidate and/or through faithless electors), the U.S. House of Representatives, selecting from the three candidates with the highest number of electoral votes with each state delegation to the House counting as one vote, elects the President. In that scenario, the support of 26 U.S. House state delegations to the upcoming 115th U.S. Congress would be required for a presidential candidate to win the White House.

It would be possible for a presidential candidate to win the White House with only one electoral vote, although the most likely scenario (which I would give a less than 1% chance of actually occurring) of a candidate winning the White House with fewer than 10% of the available electoral votes (538) in this year’s presidential election would involve a presidential candidate winning only six electoral votes.

That candidate is Evan McMullin, a former policy director for the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who is now running an independent campaign for president. McMullin’s name is not on the ballot nationwide; in fact, his name only appears on ballots in eleven states, including Utah, McMullin’s state of birth. McMullin is only four points behind a two-way tie between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump in Utah, per a recent poll by a firm called Y2 Strategies. Although most nationwide projections show that Hillary is likely to get at least 270 electoral votes, and, therefore, win the White House outright, if certain states fall a certain way, it would be possible for the presidential election to be thrown into the House, with McMullin being one of the three candidates that House state delegations can choose from. Here’s one possible, although unlikely, scenario (map created here):


 

Under the scenario above, Trump is denied an electoral college majority due to McMullin (who, for the purposes of the map above, is the “other” candidate) winning Utah and Clinton winning one of Nebraska’s five electoral votes (Nebraska and Maine allocate two votes to the statewide popular vote winner and one electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each congressional district within the state in question). This means that the House would have to choose between Clinton, Trump, and McMullin. Given McMullin’s connections with Republicans in the House, allegations that Trump sexually assaulted numerous women over a period of multiple decades, and Republicans, despite their party being in total disarray, being likely to control a majority of U.S. House state delegations after the November 2016 elections, there is a extremely slim chance that McMullin could end up being elected President of the United States despite not running a national campaign for president.

Evan McMullin would be an awful president. For starters, he’s opposed to the idea of women being able to make their own health care decisions, and he supports President Obama’s would-be-disastrous TPP trade deal, which would allow large corporations to have greater influence on American economic policy. Those are just two reasons why McMullin should not be elected to the highest office in this great nation.

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How a “write-in Bernie” movement could hand the GOP the election

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog posts contains hypothetical electoral college maps that I created at the 270ToWin website. Since, at the time I wrote the initial draft of this blog post, Donald Trump had not yet clinched the Republican presidential nomination, the label for the Republican candidate on the electoral college maps simply reads “Republican” instead of “Trump”. The label¬†for the¬†Democratic candidate on the electoral college maps reads “Clinton”, because the initial draft of the blog post was written as a hypothetical scenario of Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic presidential nomination.


Let me state clearly that, barring extraordinary circumstances, I will vote for the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential ticket in the general election. Hillary Clinton is expected to be elected Democratic presidential nominee at next month’s Democratic National Convention, and she has not picked a vice-presidential candidate at this time, although her campaign appears to be vetting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for the role. In any case, delegates to the DNC have the final say over who the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential tickets are.

However, in eight states (Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont), voters can write in the name of anyone who is not on the ballot for their state’s presidential or vice-presidential electoral votes. This means that, although I would be strongly opposed to such an effort, voters in the states named above could write-in Bernie Sanders for president in the general election against the Democratic ticket of Hillary and whoever is her running mate. This is despite the fact that Bernie has zero intention of actually running against our party’s ticket.

I’m going to present two scenarios, both of which are at least theoretically possible, now that Hillary is the Democratic nominee, but are highly unlikely.

The first scenario involves Trump and whoever Republicans nominate for Vice President getting an electoral college majority due to a “write-in Bernie” campaign being run completely against Bernie’s will, and this is exactly why I strongly oppose any “write-in Bernie” movement:


The second scenario involves Bernie winning Vermont’s three (3) electoral votes due to enough Vermont voters writing his name in for president against Bernie’s will, and the rest of the states voting in such a manner that Vermont’s electoral votes throws the presidential election into the U.S. House of Representatives:


Since Vermont has a state law that prohibits that state’s electoral college members from voting for anybody other than the candidate or ticket that received the most votes in the presidential election in Vermont, Bernie could not broker the presidential election for one of the major-party nominees in the second scenario, unless Vermont state law were to be changed. As a result, the U.S. House would be asked to elect a new president, and they would likely elect Trump to the White House.

My advice is simple: vote for the Democratic ticket in the general election for president and vice president, and do not write in Bernie’s name for president or any other office.

How to fix America’s antiquated electoral process

Granted, it would require amendment(s) to the U.S. Constitution and massive changes in federal and state laws, but America needs a massive overhaul of its election system.

Below are some of my own ideas for fixing America’s antiquated electoral system:

  • Drastically increase the size of the U.S. House – There should be one U.S. Representative for every 100,000 residents of the fifty states, rounded up, plus one U.S. Representative with full voting rights each for the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. This would result in a U.S. House size of 3,086, but it would be more representative of the country than a 435-member House.
  • Give the District of Columbia and each U.S. territory one Senator with full voting rights each – This would result in a U.S. Senate size of 106.
  • Implement a national popular vote system for electing the President, the Vice President, and major-party presidential and vice-presidential nominees – The Electoral College is an antiquated relic of the 19th century, when it wasn’t easy to report election results for a nationwide race. Ideally, an instant-runoff voting system should be used, in which voters can cast first, second, and third preferences, and second and third preferences can decide an election if no candidate gets a majority of first preferences. For party nominations for president and vice-president, a nationwide semi-partisan primary should be conducted, in which those registered with a political party would be able to choose between candidates running for their party’s nomination and unaffiliated candidates, but those not registered with a party can vote for candidates of any party affiliation, as well as unaffiliated candidates. Political parties that get 1% of the total primary vote send their top vote-getter (instant-runoff would be conducted within each party) to the general election, and any independent candidate who receives 1% of the total primary vote makes the general election ballot. Furthermore, presidential and vice-presidential candidates run as a ticket in both the primary and the general election. In the event that a presidential candidate or a vice-presidential candidate seeking a party nomination lacked a running mate, but won his or her primary, he or she would be paired with the candidate for the other office whose ticket got more votes within the party than any other ticket with a candidate for said other office
  • Standardize the electoral calendar nationwide – Here’s how I’d set up the election calendar for regularly-scheduled elections in a two-year electoral cycle:
    • Tuesday after first Monday in May of odd-numbered year – Political party leadership elections (closed to party members) and some judicial elections (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered year – County, municipal, and other local elections for the entire country (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in May of even-numbered year – Some judicial elections (open to all votes, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in September of even-numbered year – Partisan primaries for, depending on the year, President, Vice President, U.S. Congress, state executive positions, and/or state legislature (semi-partisan primary system in place)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday of November of even-numbered year – General elections for offices in which nominees were selected in the September primaries
  • Use hand-counted paper ballots for all elections, everywhere – Even when an online system is used for some absentee ballots (see below), a printout of the online absentee ballot would be hand-counted at the precinct after the polls close.
  • Speed up the absentee and military voting process with an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not part of the World Wide Web – If it’s not possible for an absentee or military absentee ballot to be physically sent to the voter’s home polling place on Election Day, set up an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not connected to the World Wide Web or any other existing infrastructure in order to allow the ballots to be scanned, uploaded to the electronic system, and printed out at the polling place so that it can be hand-counted on Election Night.
  • There should never be more than 1,000 people per polling place – It is absolutely unacceptable to cram several thousand voters into a single voting place, forcing them to wait in line for several hours.
  • Make federal judicial posts directly-elected – For federal district court judgeships, each federal district court would have at least four judgeships, with at least one seat being up for election every year. For federal circuit court appellate judgeships, a similar model to the district courts would be followed. For the U.S. Supreme Court, three associate judgeships would be up for election in years ending in “2”, two associate judgeships in years ending in “5”, three associate judgeships in years ending in “8”, and the Chief Justice’s seat in years ending in “0”.

These are just a few of my own suggestions for making America’s electoral process more efficient.