Friday, April 4, 2014

Jerry Kassar’s “Common Sense: Making no sense”

The Brooklyn Conservative Party Chairman’s weekly column is so aptly titled that I couldn’t change it

Of course, the Conservative Party leader and State Senator Golden’s Chief of Staff buried his lead, since the one item in his column that made the least sense of all was his advocacy of something called  —   the National Popular Vote Act  —  Kassar put his discussion of that last

According to Kassar’s take on this issue, “The legislature with bipartisan support passed the National Popular Vote Act last week.  Once signed by the governor, it will make New York State part of a national compact in which state members of the compact allow for their state’s electoral votes to be cast in proportion to the votes cast for president. Several states including California are members.  If it had been in effect for the 2012 presidential election, roughly a third of new York’s electoral votes would have gone to Romney. ***  The compact goes into effect when half of the nation’s electoral votes, as represented by the states, join. New York is giving the popular vote movement until 2016 to succeed or it will withdraw.  With New York’s involvement, the  national effort  is almost two thirds there....” (See ““Common Sense: Making no sense” by Jerry Kassar, 4/1/14, Home Reporter/Spectator (Home Reporter News) []).

There is no two ways about this; it’s a bad, bad, bad idea. Depending on which states actually agree to this compact, it could be a boon to the Democrats; and it could well mean that the Republicans will never elect a president again. Imagine the Democratic nominee automatically getting about 60% or more of the vote in most of the large states, around 50% of the vote in all of the swing states, and between 40-45% of the vote in many of the reliably Republican states.

Just picture a close election like 2000 with Florida-like recounts in state, after state, after state  —  perhaps in as many as 40 out of the 50 states  —  to precisely determine the percentage and the exact allocation of electors in every state, even when one side or the other was the clear winner in most of those states as a whole. In addition to its problematic application in close elections, this radical scheme is an attack on the historic operations of the Electoral College; and thus, the proposed "compact" is an irresponsible proposal of dubious constitutionality that skirts the normal methods of constitutional amendment.

Whenever I see any argument based on “fairness” I’m always suspicious. But even more than that, in my opinion, the key words in Kassar’s column that show that this whole thing is  “a poison pill”  were these: “... [passed] with bipartisan support [ ]....”  Let me ask you this; as between Democrats and Republicans, which can be relied upon to serve almost completely their partisan interests in legislation proposed and/or passed in the New York State Legislature ?  Hint: it’s not the Republicans  — especially those in the state senate.

Gee ! I wonder how Kassar’s boss State Senator Marty Golden voted on this one.


Anonymous said...

The Democrats have attempted to steal each and every presidential election in the Twenty-first Century. It is likely that they succeeded at least once with Obama. All of the gimmicks to increase the vote or make the system more "democratic" have been opportunities to increase voter fraud and the theft of elections. All of it has been intended to insure a "Democratic" presidency. This "compact" that Kassar loves so much is another nail in the coffin of our republic and the "republican form of government" established by our Founding Fathers.

toto said...

The bill is not correctly described.

The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get ALL THE 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws.

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.

The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538).

toto said...

The U.S. Constitution says "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."

The normal way of changing the method of electing the President is not a federal constitutional amendment, but changes in state law. The U.S. Constitution gives "exclusive" and "plenary" control to the states over the appointment of presidential electors.

Historically, major changes in the method of electing the President have come about by state legislative action. For example, the people had no vote for President in most states in the nation's first election in 1789. However, now, as a result of changes in the state laws governing the appointment of presidential electors, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states.

In 1789, only 3 states used the winner-take-all method (awarding all of a state's electoral vote to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state). However, as a result of changes in state laws, the winner-take-all method is now currently used by 48 of the 50 states.

In other words, neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the winner-take-all method) 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, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote; however, as a result of changes in state laws, there are now no property requirements for voting in any state.

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. The abnormal process is to go outside the Constitution, and amend it.

toto said...

The Senate passed the bill by a 57–4 margin, and the Assembly passed the bill 100–32. The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Joseph Griffo and Democratic Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

In the Senate, Republicans supported the bill 27–2; Republicans endorsed by the Conservative Party by 26–2; Democrats supported the bill 30–2; Democrats supported by the Working Families Party supported the bill 25–2.

In the Assembly, Republicans supported the bill 21–18; Republicans endorsed by the Conservative party supported the bill 18–16; Democrats supported the bill 81–15. Democrats endorsed by the Working Families Party supported the bill by 59–11.

toto said...

A survey of New York voters showed 79% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

By gender, support was 89% among women and 69% among men.

By age, support was 60% among 18-29 year olds, 74% among 30-45 year olds, 85% among 46-65 year olds, and 82% for those older than 65.

Support was 86% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans, 78% among Independence Party members (representing 8% of respondents), 50% among Conservative Party members (representing 3% of respondents), 100% among Working Families Party members (representing 2% of respondents), and 7% among Others (representing 7% of respondents).


toto said...

The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud, coercion, intimidation, confusion, and voter suppression. A very few people can change the national outcome by adding, changing, or suppressing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

National Popular Vote would limit the benefits to be gained by fraud or voter suppression. One suppressed vote would be one less vote. One fraudulent vote would only win one vote in the return. In the current electoral system, one fraudulent vote could mean 55 electoral votes, or just enough electoral votes to win the presidency without having the most popular votes in the country.

The closest popular-vote election count over the last 130+ years of American history (in 1960), had a nationwide margin of more than 100,000 popular votes. The closest electoral-vote election in American history (in 2000) was determined by 537 votes, all in one state, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide.

For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

Which system offers vote suppressors or fraudulent voters a better shot at success for a smaller effort?

Anonymous said...

This bill and this proposal is an even worse outrage than what this blog says. As it is described by TOTO the all the electors from the state that signed the compact would vote for the winner of the popular vote. That might include electors from states clearly won by a candidate that narrowly lost the national popular vote -- but who might have won the electoral vote under the current winner take all system. Not only would such a result be challenged in the courts, if the losing candidate's party controlled the House of Representatives, they might overturn the vote of the electors as an illegal delegation or conspiracy by the electors who honored the compact.

Galewyn Massey said...

Any error describing the National Popular Vote Bill comes directly from Jerry Kassar's column, whose language was quoted in the post above. That is especially disturbing, because Kassar is Chief of Staff for one of those state senators that voted for the bill.

Without vouching for the validity of any of multiple-commenter Toto's statistics, it does appear that the supporters of the bill skew toward greater support from Democrats and liberal-radical leaners -- that is not insignificant. In addition, it looks like the Republican-Conservatives in the NYS Senate strongly support this terrible bill in numbers far stronger than Republicans and Conservatives generally -- that is not insignificant either.

toto said...

The Conservative Party of New York endorses the National Popular Vote Bill

In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. It was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, and then-Senator Bob Dole.

On February 12, 2014, the Oklahoma Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill by a 28–18 margin.

In May 2011, Jason Cabel Roe, a lifelong conservative activist and professional political consultant wrote in National Popular Vote is Good for Republicans: "I strongly support National Popular Vote. It is good for Republicans, it is good for conservatives . . . , and it is good for America. National Popular Vote is not a grand conspiracy hatched by the Left to manipulate the election outcome.
It is a bipartisan effort of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to allow every state – and every voter – to have a say in the selection of our President, and not just the 15 Battle Ground States [that then existed in 2011].

National Popular Vote is not a change that can be easily explained, nor the ramifications thought through in sound bites. It takes a keen political mind to understand just how much it can help . . . Republicans. . . . Opponents either have a knee-jerk reaction to the idea or don’t fully understand it. . . . We believe that the more exposure and discussion the reform has the more support that will build for it."

The National Advisory Board of National Popular Vote includes former Congressmen John Anderson (R–Illinois and later independent presidential candidate), John Buchanan (R–Alabama), Tom Campbell (R–California), and Tom Downey (D–New York), and former Senators Birch Bayh (D–Indiana), David Durenberger (R–Minnesota), and Jake Garn (R–Utah).

Supporters include former Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN), Governor Jim Edgar (R–IL), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA)

Saul Anuzis, former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for five years and a former candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, supports the National Popular Vote plan as the fairest way to make sure every vote matters, and also as a way to help Conservative Republican candidates. This is not a partisan issue and the NPV plan would not help either party over the other.

The Nebraska GOP State Chairman, Mark Fahleson, supports NPV.

Rich Bolen, a Constitutional scholar, attorney at law, and Republican Party Chairman for Lexington County, South Carolina, wrote:"A Conservative Case for National Popular Vote: Why I support a state-based plan to reform the Electoral College."

toto said...

Some other supporters who wrote forewords to "Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote " include:

Laura Brod served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2003 to 2010 and was the ranking Republican member of the Tax Committee. She was the Minnesota Public Sector Chair for ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and active in the Council of State Governments.

James Brulte served as Republican Leader of the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1996, California State Senator from 1996 to 2004, and Senate Republican leader from 2000 to 2004.

Ray Haynes served as the National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2000. He served in the California State Senate from 1994 to 2002 and was elected to the Assembly in 1992 and 2002

Dean Murray was a member of the New York State Assembly. He was a Tea Party organizer before being elected to the Assembly as a Republican, Conservative Party member in February 2010. He was described by Fox News as the first Tea Party candidate elected to office in the United States.

Thomas L. Pearce served as a Michigan State Representative from 2005–2010 and was appointed Dean of the Republican Caucus. He has led several faith-based initiatives in Lansing.

toto said...

National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don't matter to their candidate.

And now votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning in a state are wasted and don't matter to candidates. Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

“The bottom line is that the electors from those states who cast their ballot for the nationwide vote winner are completely accountable (to the extent that independent agents are ever accountable to anyone) to the people of those states. The NPV states . . . have made a policy choice about the substantive intelligible criteria (i.e., national popularity) that they want to use to make their selection of electors. There is nothing in Article II (or elsewhere in the Constitution) that prevents them from making the decision that, in the Twenty-First Century, national voter popularity is a (or perhaps the) crucial factor in worthiness for the office of the President.” - Vikram David Amar

In state polls of voters each with a second question that specifically emphasized that their state's electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states, not necessarily their state's winner, there was only a 4-8% decrease of support.

Question 1: "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?"

Question 2: "Do you think it more important that a state's electoral votes be cast for the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in that state, or is it more important to guarantee that the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states becomes president?"

Support for a National Popular Vote
South Dakota -- 75% for Question 1, 67% for Question 2.
Connecticut -- 74% for Question 1, 68% for Question 2.
Utah -- 70% for Question 1, 66% for Question 2

Most Americans don't ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it would be wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don't allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

toto said...

National Popular Vote is based on Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives each state legislature the right to decide how to appoint its own electors. Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1:
“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."

The National Popular Vote bill says: "Any member state may withdraw from this agreement, except that a withdrawal occurring six months or less before the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President shall have been qualified to serve the next term."

Any attempt by a state to pull out of the compact in violation of its terms would violate the Impairments Clause of the U.S. Constitution and would be void. Such an attempt would also violate existing federal law. Compliance would be enforced by Federal court action

The National Popular Vote compact is, first of all, a state law. It is a state law that would govern the manner of choosing presidential electors. A Secretary of State may not ignore or override the National Popular Vote law any more than he or she may ignore or override the winner-take-all method that is currently the law in 48 states.

There has never been a court decision allowing a state to withdraw from an interstate compact without following the procedure for withdrawal specified by the compact. Indeed, courts have consistently rebuffed the occasional (sometimes creative) attempts by states to evade their obligations under interstate compacts.

In 1976, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland stated in Hellmuth and Associates v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority:

“When enacted, a compact constitutes not only law, but a contract which may not be amended, modified, or otherwise altered without the consent of all parties.”

In 1999, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania stated in Aveline v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole:
“A compact takes precedence over the subsequent statutes of signatory states and, as such, a state may not unilaterally nullify, revoke, or amend one of its compacts if the compact does not so provide.”

In 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court very succinctly addressed the issue in Petty v. Tennessee-Missouri Bridge Commission:
“A compact is, after all, a contract.”

The important point is that an interstate compact is not a mere “handshake” agreement. If a state wants to rely on the goodwill and graciousness of other states to follow certain policies, it can simply enact its own state law and hope that other states decide to act in an identical manner. If a state wants a legally binding and enforceable mechanism by which it agrees to undertake certain specified actions only if other states agree to take other specified actions, it enters into an interstate compact.

Interstate compacts are supported by over two centuries of settled law guaranteeing enforceability. Interstate compacts exist because the states are sovereign. If there were no Compacts Clause in the U.S. Constitution, a state would have no way to enter into a legally binding contract with another state. The Compacts Clause, supported by the Impairments Clause, provides a way for a state to enter into a contract with other states and be assured of the enforceability of the obligations undertaken by its sister states. The enforceability of interstate compacts under the Impairments Clause is precisely the reason why sovereign states enter into interstate compacts. Without the Compacts Clause and the Impairments Clause, any contractual agreement among the states would be, in fact, no more than a handshake.

Galewyn Massey said...

Thanks to "toto" for all of that....

Let me get this straight. Some establishment Republicans, most of whom clearly showed their willingness to go along with more or less of the Democrat-liberal hegemonic agenda during their time in "power" or influence, have said this is a good idea some time in the last twenty to forty years; so it's a good idea to adopt the National Popular Vote proposal/bill now that a radical - deconstructionist - "transformative" Democratic Party has emerged with a solid popular base of about 47%.

This is all a bill-o'-goods that I'm not buyin' intuh !

Anonymous said...

Better arguments can be made to make Barack Obama the Permanent National Leader and President for Life than what TOTO has said in favor of the NPV Act.