Frank Addivinola: Massachusetts is waiving our rights to elect a President

[ed_note] We received this editorial from Frank Addivinola, candidate for 1st Suffolk & Middlesex Senate District.[/ed_note]

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Frank Addivinola

The Massachusetts Legislature approved a new law that bypasses the Electoral College system used by the states to elect a President. This new law would ensure that the winner is determined by the national popular vote and all 12 of our state’s electoral votes will be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally.

Our founding fathers established the Electoral College system because our country was created as a Federal Republic. They wanted to prevent that a President be elected by large urban centers and gave individual states the power to participate in the outcome.

Beacon Hill lawmakers that supported this new bill suggest that this system is fairer than the current Electoral College system and would ensure that each individual vote across the country will be of equal importance. In fact, this law tells Massachusetts voters that regardless of which candidate the majority of the state supports, all electoral votes of this state will go to the candidate that had the most support in other states. This means that if Massachusetts citizens vote differently than the rest of the country, this law literally nullifies our votes. Moreover, this system discourages voters from participating in the presidential election at all, since it will be the larger states that will decide for the Commonwealth which candidate to elect. Additionally, in the event of a close election, the new system can result in multiple recounts. This would delay a President-elect to take office and leave a sitting President for an indefinite period of time if some state refuses to participate in a recount to determine the popular vote.

The question remains as to which party benefits from this bill? Under this law, Massachusetts would have given its electoral votes to the Republican presidential candidate in many previous elections. Will our lawmakers repeal this bill when our state will be forced to award all electoral votes to a Republican candidate? We have the precedent of changing laws based on the ruling party’s convenience. For example, after the Republican Governor of Massachusetts had his power to appoint an interim U.S. Senator taken away, our legislators swiftly reversed that decision for the Democratic Governor to fill the seat of late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

However, this bill in not a partisan, but a Constitutional issue of fair representation. To respect the Constitution of the United States, changes must be made nationally, through a Constitutional Amendment, to ensure that all Americans vote under the same representation system.

My Democratic opponent, the current State Senator of the 1st Suffolk and Middlesex District, voted for this new bill and also voted against the proposal to put it as a question on this year’s ballot for the people of Massachusetts to decide how they want to be represented.

Even though this law will go into effect when states totaling 270 out of 538 electoral votes will enter into this agreement, this is a slippery slope. Voters ask: what are the real reasons for our legislators to adopt this law? Our elected officials should not think that Massachusetts voters are not competent to cast their votes. Therefore, the will of the voters that elected officials serve should not be transferred to the residents of other states.

Frank Addivinola is the Republican State Senate candidate in the 1st Suffolk & Middlesex District that includes: Beacon Hill, North End/Waterfront, West End, Financial District, East Boston, Revere, Winthrop and east Cambridge.

Visit http://www.FrankAddivinola.com to learn more about his campaign.

13 Comments

  • Founding Fathers Fan
    July 30, 2010 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I disagree. I don’t think a national popular vote nullifies my vote or the votes of Massachusetts at all. It’s just the opposite.

    My vote individual vote for McCain (along with the other 1.1 million Commonwealth voters who supported him) was nullified because all of our 12 electoral votes went to Obama. My vote actually got counted for Obama!

    I love the Commonwealth and am proud of my state. However, it’s more important to me that the candidate that I support wins an election than wins the Commonwealth. At the end of the day, I don’t care which candidate wins Massachusetts, I care which candidate wins the White House. A national popular vote means that my vote for McCain would actually have mattered in the overall scheme as opposed to being drown out because I live in an overwhelmingly Democratic state. This proposal makes sense to me.

  • Guest
    July 30, 2010 - 4:53 pm | Permalink

    There is going to be misrepresentation with either system. With the electoral college, states with the smallest populations have the minimum of 3 electoral votes while states like California have electoral votes based on population. Citizens in smaller states in effect have more representation with the electoral college.

  • mvy
    July 31, 2010 - 12:54 am | Permalink

    State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award electoral college votes were eventually enacted by 48 states AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, .

    The Founding Fathers only said in the U.S. Constitution about presidential elections (only after debating among 60 ballots for choosing a method): “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all rule) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, Only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote.

    In 1789 only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all rule to award electoral votes.

    There is no valid argument that the winner-take-all rule is entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all rule.

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state’s electoral votes.

    As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all rule is used by 48 of the 50 states. Maine and Nebraska currently award electoral votes by congressional district — a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

  • mvy
    July 31, 2010 - 12:55 am | Permalink

    A survey of 800 Massachusetts voters conducted on May 23-24, 2010 showed 72% overall support for the idea that the President of the United States should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

    Voters were asked

    ‘How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current electoral college system?’

    By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote was 86% among Democrats, 54% among Republicans, and 68% among others. By gender, support was 85% among women and 60% among men. By age, support was 85% among 18-29 year olds, 75% among 30-45 year olds, 69% among 46-65 year olds, and 72% for those older than 65.

    Massachusetts voters were also asked a 3-way question:

    ‘Do you prefer a system where the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states on a nationwide basis is elected President, or one like the one used in Nebraska and Maine where electoral voters are dispensed by Congressional district, or one in which all of the state’s electoral votes would be given to the statewide winner?’

    The results of this three-way question were that 68% favored a national popular vote, 16% favored awarding its electoral votes by congressional district, and 16% favored the existing statewide winner-take-all system (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes statewide).

    see http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  • mvy
    July 31, 2010 - 12:58 am | Permalink

    The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

    The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

    A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires. The larger the number of voters in an election, the smaller the chance of close election results.

    Recounts in presidential elections would be far less likely to occur under a national popular vote system than under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each separate state).

    In fact, if the President were elected from a single nationwide pool of votes, one would expect a recount once in 332 elections, or once in 1,328 years.

    Based on a recent study of 7,645 statewide elections in the 26-year period from 1980 through 2006 by FairVote, the probability of a recount is 1 in 332 elections (23 recounts in 7,645 elections). Thus, with 420 statewide races on the ballot in 2006, there was one statewide recount (the Vermont State Auditor’s race). Similarly, there was one recount in 2004 (the Washington state governor) and one in 2008 (the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota).

    Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system, there are 51 separate opportunities for recounts in every presidential election. Thus, our nation’s 56 presidential elections have really been 2,084 separate state-level elections. In this group of 2,084 separate elections, there have been five seriously disputed counts. The current system has repeatedly created artificial crises in which the vote has been extremely close in particular states, while not close on a nationwide basis. Note that five seriously disputed counts out of the 2,084 separate state-level elections is closely in line with the historically observed probability of 1 in 332.

    A national popular vote would reduce the probability of a recount from five instances in 56 presidential elections to one instance in 332 elections (that is, once in 1,328 years).

  • mvy
    July 31, 2010 - 12:59 am | Permalink

    Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” prior to the common nationwide date for the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets.

    The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.

  • mvy
    July 31, 2010 - 1:02 am | Permalink

    The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all rule (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but now used by 48 states), under which all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided “battleground” states and their voters. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Massachusetts (the 13th largest population state, with 12 electoral college votes) and 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states (with less than 7 electoral college votes) were not among them. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states, and candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

    Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

    Under National Popular Vote, votes cast in Massachusetts for the Republican presidential candidate will be counted towards his or her national total. Republican votes for president will matter and be counted in “blue states” and Democratic votes will matter and be counted in “red states.”

  • mvy
    July 31, 2010 - 1:04 am | Permalink

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. It would no longer matter who won a state. Elections wouldn’t be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

    The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska — 70%, DC — 76%, Delaware –75%, Maine — 77%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 74% , Massachusetts — 73%, Minnesota — 75%, New York — 79%, Washington — 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes — 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  • mvy
    July 30, 2010 - 8:54 pm | Permalink

    State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award electoral college votes were eventually enacted by 48 states AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, .

    The Founding Fathers only said in the U.S. Constitution about presidential elections (only after debating among 60 ballots for choosing a method): “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all rule) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, Only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote.

    In 1789 only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all rule to award electoral votes.

    There is no valid argument that the winner-take-all rule is entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all rule.

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes.

    As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all rule is used by 48 of the 50 states. Maine and Nebraska currently award electoral votes by congressional district — a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

  • mvy
    July 30, 2010 - 8:58 pm | Permalink

    The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

    The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

    A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires. The larger the number of voters in an election, the smaller the chance of close election results.

    Recounts in presidential elections would be far less likely to occur under a national popular vote system than under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each separate state).

    In fact, if the President were elected from a single nationwide pool of votes, one would expect a recount once in 332 elections, or once in 1,328 years.

    Based on a recent study of 7,645 statewide elections in the 26-year period from 1980 through 2006 by FairVote, the probability of a recount is 1 in 332 elections (23 recounts in 7,645 elections). Thus, with 420 statewide races on the ballot in 2006, there was one statewide recount (the Vermont State Auditor's race). Similarly, there was one recount in 2004 (the Washington state governor) and one in 2008 (the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota).

    Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system, there are 51 separate opportunities for recounts in every presidential election. Thus, our nation's 56 presidential elections have really been 2,084 separate state-level elections. In this group of 2,084 separate elections, there have been five seriously disputed counts. The current system has repeatedly created artificial crises in which the vote has been extremely close in particular states, while not close on a nationwide basis. Note that five seriously disputed counts out of the 2,084 separate state-level elections is closely in line with the historically observed probability of 1 in 332.

    A national popular vote would reduce the probability of a recount from five instances in 56 presidential elections to one instance in 332 elections (that is, once in 1,328 years).

  • mvy
    July 30, 2010 - 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” prior to the common nationwide date for the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets.

    The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.

  • mvy
    July 30, 2010 - 9:02 pm | Permalink

    The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all rule (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but now used by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided “battleground” states and their voters. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Massachusetts (the 13th largest population state, with 12 electoral college votes) and 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states (with less than 7 electoral college votes) were not among them. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states, and candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

    Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

    Under National Popular Vote, votes cast in Massachusetts for the Republican presidential candidate will be counted towards his or her national total. Republican votes for president will matter and be counted in “blue states” and Democratic votes will matter and be counted in “red states.”

  • mvy
    July 30, 2010 - 9:04 pm | Permalink

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. It would no longer matter who won a state. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

    The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska — 70%, DC — 76%, Delaware –75%, Maine — 77%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 74% , Massachusetts — 73%, Minnesota — 75%, New York — 79%, Washington — 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes — 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

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