News release from Secretary of State’s office:
Eleven Electoral College representatives from across Tennessee met in Nashville Monday to cast the state’s presidential votes for Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Paul Ryan.
Like most states, Tennessee’s votes in the Electoral College are allocated based on a “winner take all” system – which means the electors pledged to award all 11 of the state’s votes to the candidate who received the highest amount of votes statewide in the Nov. 6 general election.
Results of Monday’s meeting of the electors will be forwarded to Washington, D.C., where Congress is scheduled to meet in a joint session Jan. 6 to accept the results from all 50 states.
Tennessee’s electoral votes are determined by its proportional share of the United States population. The electors this year were:
Tennessee is being ignored, as usual, in the presidential campaign this year – except, of course, for fundraising – and that is prompting a new round of talk about abolishing the electoral college system. Andy Sher rounds up some commentary on the topic. You can count former Democratic Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, a Tennessee Republican, among the critics.
Both say the situation should end in which campaigns are forced to follow Electoral College strategies where the outcome trumps the national popular vote.
…But defenders of the Electoral College say no changes are needed. They argue mega-states like California and New York would dominate the popular vote and leave states like Tennessee an afterthought.
“The presidential election would basically be concentrated in the coastal cities, Los Angeles and New York,” Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said. “And everyone else would be left behind. It would open it up more to fraud and electoral abuse.”
…Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Republican state Senate speaker, likewise voiced support for the current system.
“We have a long-standing, time-tested mechanism for choosing our president,” Ramsey said. “This process in rooted in a tradition that protects the interests of both small as well as large states. A National Popular Vote process that would either abolish or neuter the electoral college would eviscerate that delicate balance our founders strove to achieve.”
Former Vice President Al Gore, who lost the 2000 presidential election by a narrow margin in the electoral college while easily winning the popular vote, has now called for abandoning the system, reports The Tennessean. “Even after the 2000 election, I still supported the idea of the electoral college,” Gore said Thursday during coverage of the Republican National Convention on Current TV, which he co-founded.
“The logic is, it knits the country together, it prevents regional conflicts and it goes back through our history to some legitimate concerns. But since then I’ve given a lot of thought to it, and I’ve seen how these states are just written off and ignored, and people are effectively disenfranchised in the presidential race, and I really do now think that it’s time to change that
“It’s always tough to amend the constitution and risky to do so, but there is a very interesting movement under way that takes it state by state, that may really have a chance of succeeding. And I hope it does. I think that it’s time. I think our country would be stronger and better if it went according to the popular vote.”
…Gore, the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2000, defeated Republican George W. Bush by some 543,000 votes nationally but lost the electoral college by five votes, 271 to 266. Bush’s win in Florida, where he prevailed by 537 votes statewide after a historic recount, put him over the top.
Former Sen. Fred Thompson may be leading a national effort to have the United States president elected on the basis of the nationwide popular vote, but the state Republican Party – echoing the Republican National Committee – is dead set against the idea. News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – On Saturday, the State Executive Committee of the Tennessee Republican Party unanimously passed a resolution supporting the constitutional Electoral College process of electing the President of the United States.
“Electing the President of the United States through the Electoral College was the method deemed best by our founding fathers. It ensures that all states, regardless of size, are included in the presidential election process, and it helps to preserve the balance of power between the federal government and state governments,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson has become a spokesman for a group advocating popular election of the U.S. president. (Recent post HERE.) But John Ryder, lawyer and national Republican committeeman for Tennessee, has the opposite view.
The state Republican party thought enough of Ryder’s opinion piece in the Washington Times to email copies to reporters today. Here’s how it starts: The proposal by some fellow Republicans for a “national popular vote (NPV) compact” is an example of what H.L. Mencken meant when he said, “For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, clear and wrong.”
The compact would subvert the Constitution by changing how we elect our president. Instead of forthrightly seeking to amend the Constitution by abolishing the Electoral College, the proposal bypasses the Constitution by creating a compact among some states that would bind all states.
Under the plan, the electoral votes of a state would be committed to the slate that is the “national popular vote winner” regardless of the vote within the state.
The Electoral College is part of an elaborate mechanism designed by the Founders to create interdependent centers of power, each balancing the excesses of the others. The Constitution balances the competing elements of our Republic: The membership of the House of Representatives is based on population. The Senate is based on equal representation by state.
This design balances the interests of large and small states.
The Electoral College mirrors this arrangement by giving each state electoral votes equal to its membership in the House plus its two Senators. Thus, California gets 55 electoral votes because of its large population, but no state, even Delaware, has fewer than three electoral votes. It reflects the Founders’ compromise between large states and small states and between electing the president by Congress and electing the president directly by the people.
Bypassing the Electoral College through the proposed compact undermines that balance by effectually erasing states’ boundaries along with those states’ sovereignty.
News release from Tennessee Popular Vote:
Four out of five Tennesseans want the presidential candidate who receives the most votes to win the White House, according to a poll conducted earlier this month.
When asked to agree or disagree with the following statement: “The presidential candidate who gets the most votes always should be the winner,” 83% of those polled agreed, and 14% disagreed.
“We are perpetually rolling the dice in presidential elections in this country and risking electing someone who didn’t get the most votes,” Senator Fred Thompson says. Earlier this month, he was named a co-champion of the National Popular Vote campaign. Video clips of Senator Thompson on Popular Vote here and here.
The poll was conducted by John McLaughlin, a well-respected national pollster.
Every political demographic group across the state favors changing to a system driven by the popular vote, the poll showed.
When Republicans were asked,”How should the President be elected, by who gets the most votes in all 50 states or by the current winner-takes-all system?” 73% of them favored the popular vote.
Of all Democrats asked the same question, 78% favored the popular vote system.
When respondents who agree with Tea Party values were asked, 72% of them preferred the popular vote.
Supporters of the Popular Vote system argue that millions of votes don’t count with the winner-takes-all system, in which all of a state’s electors go to the candidate with the most votes in that state. For example, in California, usually carried by the Democratic presidential candidate, the thousands of votes cast for the Republican simply don’t count when the Electoral College votes are tallied.
Popular Vote proponents also point out that the few states with the most electoral votes get most of the attention during a presidential campaign. Tennessee, for example, was virtually ignored.
In 2008, the state was visited once by a presidential candidate. Despite the fact that Tennesseans contributed almost $8 million to the presidential campaigns that year, a mere $9,955 was spent on ads in the state – out of the more than $160 million spent by the campaigns on ads during the peak period.
The non-partisan National Popular Vote campaign has filed legislation in a number of states, including Tennessee, to reform the electoral system and ensure that the presidential candidate who receives the most votes wins.
For more information, visit www.tnpopularvote.com.