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Letter: A National Popular Vote Would Make Every Vote Count

Letter to the Editor from Rep. Raymond Gallison Jr., and Sen. Erin Lynch.

Under the current system of electing the President, Rhode Island is ignored.

In 2008, both the Democratic and Republican candidates concentrated two-thirds of their campaign events and money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the states, including Rhode Island and almost every small state, received zero attention from presidential campaigns.

The problem has nothing to do with being big or small, or red or blue.  Nor is it the Electoral College or the Constitution that forces presidential candidates to ignore most of the country in this way. The problem is the winner-take-all state law that awards all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes in the state. Because of the winner-take-all rule, candidates have no incentive to campaign in states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. As a result, presidential campaigns always boil down to a small number of closely divided battleground states where the result could go either way.

Because Rhode Island is a safe bet for any Democrat (just as Texas is safe for any Republican), our state misses out on a great deal, including presidential campaigning, grassroots organizing, advertising, polling, or any discussion of issues that matter to Rhode Island. Contrast this to New Hampshire, which has the same number of electoral votes as Rhode Island, but unlike our state, receives 12 of the 300 post-convention campaign events and correspondingly large amounts of money.

This is no way to elect the leader of the free world. Every state ought to be important, every voter ought to have an equal voice, and the most votes should win. These are the ideals behind the National Popular Vote bill, which guarantees the Presidency to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states.

Article II, section 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives states the exclusive authority to award their electors as they see fit. Under National Popular Vote, states join an agreement to award their electoral votes to the winner of national popular vote in all 50 states. The agreement would not go into effect until a number of states representing a majority in the Electoral College (270 of 538) pass an identical bill.  

This state-based approach is an appropriate way to reform the system. States have changed their laws governing electoral votes many times. Indeed, when Massachusetts enacted the National Popular Vote bill last year, it was the eleventh time the state had changed their method of awarding electoral votes. To date, eight other states, including Vermont, have enacted the National Popular Vote bill, representing half of the number of electors needed for the law to take effect. Thirty-one states have passed the bill through at least one legislative chamber, including Rhode Island which passed it in both the House and Senate at various times in the past.

Under a national popular vote, Rhode Island would be back in the game. In fact, every state would be the recipient of campaign attention because every vote would be equal. Candidates would campaign for votes everywhere, just as candidates for the legislature in Rhode Island must campaign in every part of their districts. This would be a good thing for our state. Candidates should have to come to Rhode Island and address the issues that matter to our people.

Recently, MIT visiting scholar Alexander Belenky argued in the Providence Journal that National Popular Vote might violate the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment ("National Popular Vote might Violate U.S. Constitution” November 2nd). This analysis is incorrect because under National Popular Vote, every vote would be equal. The candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC) would become President, and every voter in every state would have an equal vote.

In next year's legislative session, Rhode Island should exercise the power given to it by the U.S. Constitution and join nine other states in enacting the National Popular Vote bill. Not only will the needs and concerns of Rhode Island finally attract the attention we deserve from presidential candidates, but we will ensure that every vote is equal, the candidate with the most votes wins, and every voter matters in every presidential election.


Submitted by Sen. Erin Lynch and Rep. Raymond E. Gallison, Jr.

Sen. Erin Lynch of Warwick is the Senate sponsor of the National Popular Vote initiative in Rhode Island.  Rep. Raymond E. Gallison, Jr. of Bristol will sponsor the House version of the National Popular Vote legislation.

John Crawford April 15, 2012 at 07:02 AM
Rhode Island has 828,611 residents over the age of 18, according to the 2010 US Census data. RI also has 700,000+ registered voters - 85% of those eligible, a record high number! The very same data for the City of Detroit? Detroit has 523,000 residents over the age of 18 according to the Census Bureau and has 561,000 registered voters voters according to the City of Detroit! That's 107% ! And that is just the City of Detroit! Anyone here see any problems with electing the President by a National Popular Vote? ALL of Rhode Island's Electoral votes are at stake.
John Crawford April 15, 2012 at 07:25 AM
"The problem is the winner-take-all state law that awards all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes in the state. Because of the winner-take-all rule, candidates have no incentive to campaign in states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. " If that is truly "The Problem" then, Senator and Representative, you already own The Solution! Simply change Rhode Island's law!! Pass a law next month to apportion Rhode Island's electoral votes by some method! Why wait for a National Compact to be adopted when you already own The Solution? You claim that a Winner-Take-All rule is The Problem and you want voters to "solve" that by entering a National Compact that compels Rhode Island to be a Winner-or-LOSER-Take-All State, but according to the 'more intelligent' NPV standards! Legislators in 9 States and a few more legislatures have made this same fundamental mistake.
Jack Baillargeron April 15, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Part 1 Yet another thing for these legislators to consider that just occurred to me, and why they do not know this is beyond belief. Roger Williams, the Founder of this State was almost put to death by a popular majority Vote in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, fortunately he was only Banned and forced out of the Colony. He also Formed the 1st State on Freedom of Religion, (not freedom from religion) as some read the Constitution incorrectly even in this State. The Puritans wanted a single religious colony, however the Constitution put an end to that by Forcing all Amendments to the Constitution Be approved by 2/3 of the States, effectively Stopping The New State from doing this on whim of the people by majority in the State, preserving the Minority rights of the people in the State. It should be noted, that at the time the Slave States had the Majority of the people, hence the 2/3rds rule, to prevent the Slave States from total control of all 3 branches of government and making it a pure Democracy, rather than a Representative Republic as all who support this action want to do. For people from the 1st State to declare war on England, Last to approve the Constitution until they made sure their concerns were heard, not to mention Our Representatives forcing the action of freedom of Religion,(Again Not freedom from religion) is despicable to say the least.
Jack Baillargeron April 15, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Part 2 Rethink your position and do the right thing, not even bring to the floor, to embarrass the good citizens, probably the majority by the way, once informed of what this actually is an does, also the reason you would not bring it to the people for a vote to change the Constitution of this State. I wonder why that is and where are the supporters to explain this, Especially Rep. Gallison who has posted before to the people. Where are you? Why can you not defend your own letter? Why even post it, if you refuse to stand up for it, as we are standing up for our rights. Afraid of free speech from the people. Afraid your argument can not stand up to common sense of the Constitution? Where is the backbone to defend ones own actions, supposedly on behalf of the people? I can tell you where, in the backroom of some Party headquarters, try to manipulate the States to circumvent, that which many of us hold dear and close to our hearts. Tyranny is not a just a word, spouted easily, but when something like this, rears its ugly head, we most all band together, so the road of tyranny does not even get a start to destruction of the very fabric of the Republic.
marina peterson April 16, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Ray, I don't know if you have been following the comments of your constituents on your Bristol-Warren Patch letter, but it appears that ALL but "toto" are very much against this bill. Any chance you will reconsider and pull it? I think that once folks realize that it is NOT a constitutional amendment but is an interstate compact that not all states will be participating in, the support dissolves. Many did not truly understand the content when it was initially presented, including representatives that signed on to co-sponsor. Many of the co-sponsors have now withdrawn their support.
Jack Baillargeron April 17, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I'm Positive Rep. Raymond E. Gallison, Jr. Is quite aware of these post by now Marina, and it also surprises me he has not responded, to defend his actions. He has done this in the past, and was one of the first to show at a BCWA meeting to support those of us wanting transparency. My personal opinion is this issue cannot be defended in any way shape or form. Is hard tohave continued respect for him or stick up for him on issues we do agree with him on, if he will not debate the issues we disagree on. That goes for all te reps, who either suport or do not support this bill. I find it very disconcerting that even those reps, who did not or do not support the bill are also silent on the issue. They should be screamng about a bill that goes to the vey core of a Representative Republic's right to exist, which this bill obviously abrogates. Shame on them also.
Jack Baillargeron April 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Should note tht I miss Rep. Gablinski Though we disagreed on some issues, he use to respond and state his reasoning on the east bay paper comments section when he was in office to posters. Didn't like some of his answers, but you still have to respect going toe to toe with your constituants, even those that disagree. On another note I am going to miss my Gablinski Lawn bags ;-}. I doubt morrison would spring for them since he seems to still be fighting to get land or free lol.
marina peterson April 17, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I am disappointed that Rep Gallison has not posted any responses as well. I have emailed him twice and asked him to respond and defend his bill... I just don't think he wants to get into this volatile situation... I think he was surprised at the resistance. I respect him and he always responds to all emails. this is a surprise. Does anyone know who "toto" is????
Jack Baillargeron April 17, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Toto appears to be with one of the national organizations who are pushing this, like the van jones wack. We had a national guy for atheist from california flood that article on the banner, the same way. He however used his real name, and stated who he was. This guy never answered a single post with anything other than cut and past from a few web sites, which made him irrelevent and no credibility. Also pretty much delusional in my opinion when it comes to the History of this Country.
marina peterson April 17, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I wonder if Ray is aware of him and how foolish he is making him look. I'll try and give him a call.
Jack Baillargeron April 17, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I tend to doubt it, these people pushing this nationally have a dark agenda, for our future I think. I dislike conspiracy theories for the most part,but have see some from years ago, coming sadly true, like this circumvention of the Constiution,Atempt to make the Republic irrelevent and destroy it, like Rome was in the end with exactly this type of action a large part of that, leading to a dictatorship and destruction of the entire Empire. not so sure he is being foolish, as party manipulation that goes on so much in this democratic controled State for over 78 years now. Perfect example of a majority being in control, with no minorty party to have power for their constituents views being considered, due to votes, no different then this bill advocates. Giving 4 States the power to Pick a president, no matter how the other 46 State vote, that is the big lie hidden in his bill.
Gina April 18, 2012 at 10:11 AM
Look who is number #2 http://www.golocalprov.com/news/state-spenders/?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=golocal&utm_content=Wednesday+-+April%2C+18+2012+
Jack Baillargeron April 18, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Dito What she said ;-}. Wednesday, April 18, 2012 Dan McGowan, GoLocalProv News Editor An Electoral College reform group, two casinos hoping for table game expansion and several insurance companies are among the entities that have already spent over $1 million lobbying lawmakers on Smith Hill in 2012, according to a GoLocalProv review of reports filed with the Secretary of State’s office. In total, the top 20 biggest spenders shelled out $801,831.58 during the first three months of the legislative session, with the McLane Company—a $34 billion supply chain services provider— leading the way with $180,000 paid out to lobbyists through March. Each of the top 20 entities have spent at least $20,000 during the year. In 2011, twelve entities ended up spending more than $100,000 over the course of the year
56 Signers April 19, 2012 at 05:01 PM
The opposition is frantic and irrational. There is nothing about NPV that infringes upon federalism, rather it is utilizes a federalist provision in the Constitution pre-10th Amendment. For those who think that our republican form of government is solely based on the way we elect the President, you must reevaluate your public school education. Our republican or constitutional republic is dependent on representative democracy. NPV falls directly within that framework because it is state legislators making the decision... it is not direct democracy by any stretch. I hope that all the folks that knee jerk in opposition will actually read the document they are purporting to quote and revere. I get so sick of hearing "the intent of the founders'... you all sound like a bunch of liberals. We don't need to presume what the Founder's "intended", because we know what they SAID in the plain language of the Constitution in Article II section 1 of the US Constitution does not need to be interpreted. Get over your opposition base on a knee jerk opinion of what the Founder's "intended." Truth be told, Madison wanted a popular vote and Hamilton wanted a King. What the Founders determined was that it is up to the states to decide. The argument against NPV is just an argument by establishment republicans to hold down the voice of the tea party and others on the full spectrum of the right. W/out NPV, they don't need our votes on the far right in either red or blue states.
56 Signers April 19, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Why would you use a Constitutional Amendment to change a state law... makes no sense. The way Rhode Island awards electors is simply a state law. A constitutional amendment would eliminate the state's right that gives legislators the power to award electors. If the legislators want to change how they award electors, the appropriate way is through changing the state law like they are doing with NPV.
56 Signers April 19, 2012 at 05:17 PM
No way to disrupt the meeting of the college because the courts have determined over and over again that each state must have its "final determination" completed 6 days before the College is scheduled to meet. The authority for recounts is appropriately at the state level. We have a federalist administration of elections and NPV does not change that one bit.
Jack Baillargeron April 20, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Sorry 56 signer you seem to not even have read the bil. I could care les what Part tried to ram this bill through suddenly. Wrong is wrong. The compact specifies that it shall take effect only if it is law in states controlling a majority of electoral votes on July 20 of a presidential election year. States wishing to join or withdraw from the compact after that date would not be able to implement that withdrawal until after January 20 of the following year. The compact would terminate in the event that the Electoral College is abolished. It is about Obama. Why is there a withdraw after the Election this year? Clearly it circumvents the US Constitution by its very own language. Only 4 times in history has this arose to even happen, yet caused no riots, civil wars, or take over by nefarious agenda of the Electoral College. There is no problem!!! The Electoral College allows a candidate to win the presidency while losing the popular vote, as happened in the elections of 1876, 1888 and 2000. In each of these races, a Democrat won the popular vote while losing the electoral vote (and thus the election) to a Republican. In 2000, for example, Democrat Al Gore lost the election despite beating Republican George W. Bush in the popular vote. Republicans are not immune to this artifact of the electoral college, either, as Bush would have faced Gore's situation himself in 2004 if there had been a 60,000 vote shift to John Kerry in Ohio. No reason for the bill at all.
Jack Baillargeron April 20, 2012 at 03:07 PM
56 Signers From the National Popular Vote site. http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/ “The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill preserves the Electoral College, while ensuring that every vote in every state will matter in every presidential election. The National Popular Vote law has been enacted by states possessing 132 electoral votes— 49% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it.” Currently 9 States are for this, not the lies spouted by NPV. HI, CA, IL, VT, MD, WA, MA, NJ, and DC. Notice the lie of saying the Electoral College will still be used, No it is not being used in the intended way the Founders wanted it. It is nothing more than block voting, Pure Democracy, ignoring the less populous States votes forever. Gee just like the most European Systems. Hmmm thought we threw them out. Well are those the States you want Electing the President every term? I sure do not
marina peterson April 20, 2012 at 03:45 PM
For those of you who have been following this thread, there is a response from Representative Gallison at http://bristol-warren.patch.com/articles/letter-answers-to-objections-to-the-national-popular-vote Please comment.
marina peterson April 20, 2012 at 03:48 PM
The electoral college was designed to give EVERY state a roll in the Presidential election. Period.
marina peterson April 20, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Toto.... I have a question for you. Why did the NPV lobby choose to spend almost $40,000 lobbying for NPV in little RI. It was originally reported to be close to $70,000 and then they claimed an error was made and adjusted the figure. What's up?
Jack Baillargeron April 20, 2012 at 05:08 PM
It is more than that Marina a lot more, the plot thickens. Wednesday, April 18, 2012 Dan McGowan, GoLocalProv News Editor An Electoral College reform group, two casinos hoping for table game expansion and several insurance companies are among the entities that have already spent over $1 million lobbying lawmakers on Smith Hill in 2012, according to a GoLocalProv review of reports filed with the Secretary of State’s office. In total, the top 20 biggest spenders shelled out $778,831.58 during the first three months of the legislative session, with the McLane Company—a $34 billion supply chain services provider— leading the way with $180,000 paid out to lobbyists through March. Each of the top 20 entities have spent at least $20,000 during the year. In 2011, twelve entities ended up spending more than $100,000 over the course of the year. Is it not telling the Companies above donating so much for this bill. Why is that?Could it be to gain favor, forgettng full gambling passed, sue looks that waydoes it not. Though lobbying is legal, the bottom line is it is nothng more than political bribery. Just once I would like to see polticians admit that and say, no we will not allow this, we are for the people, and will not be swayed to vote one way on a bill, to get support for another bill. This is call getting it in both ends, and the people be damned, put this all up for a state wide vote. (oops can't, it ould not affect this years election right?)
Gina May 01, 2012 at 08:00 PM
http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2012/05/ri-house-postpo-1.html Postponed until the 22nd...
Jack Baillargeron May 01, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Thats good Gina. Hopefully they will see the error in all this and flush it where it belongs. Now these same people who say they represent us are writing and supporting a bill that creates a nice little group with massive Eminent Domain powers. I think these guys have gone off the deep end. http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText12/HouseText12/H7592.pdf
Gina May 01, 2012 at 08:42 PM
ahh yes...the "East Bay Energy Consortium Act". been keeping my eye on that one for a while...glad Marina is on it...!...more people need to know about the newest BCWA ( worse than that in my eyes )...I'm surprised with it being an election year & having an opponent now that Malik put his name on it..
Jack Baillargeron May 01, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Yea makes the BCWA look like a penny candy store, with the money and powers they are talking about, I think our reps have gone insane with, dreams of GodHood. Don't they know we had a revolution to stop this kind of control, by a government or a King? alas I guess not. Have to stay on top of this as well.
Gina May 01, 2012 at 08:57 PM
http://oceanstateteapartyinaction.wordpress.com/ They are following this as well Jack :)
Jack Baillargeron May 01, 2012 at 09:01 PM
yea just got one of my brothers in Newport on it, as Newport is consideing joining it also, I guess the delusion of a government Uptopia, controled by the Government is State wide now for sure lol.
marina peterson May 01, 2012 at 10:28 PM
We live to fight another day!
marina peterson May 04, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Interesting quote from article by Jim Baron, Southern RI newspapers: The NPV people are trying to enlist states into an agreement to allocate all of their electoral votes to whichever candidate gets the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of how the citizens in that state voted. So if this bogus “compact” had been in effect in 2004, when 259,760 Rhode Islanders voted for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and only 169,046 of us voted for President George W. Bush, all four of Rhode Island’s electoral votes would have gone to re-elect President Bush. In other words, “fie on all you silly people who cast votes, we are going to render them meaningless, and the votes cast on your behalf are going to go to the other guy.” You can’t hold an election and then give the votes cast the exact opposite effect than that which the voters intended. That’s perverse. Article at http://www.ricentral.com/content/politics-usual-switch-popular-vote-not-so-fast-folks-opinion

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