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.
As the battle brews over how to pick the state’s most powerful judges, plans to make them earn their seat on the bench through popular elections narrowly failed in a House committee Wednesday, according to TNReport.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-7 on a plan to elect Supreme and appellate court judges, one vote shy of the majority vote necessary to advance the plan in the Legislature. (Note: And with two members absent.) “I’m disappointed, to say the least,” said bill sponsor Rep. Glen Casada, who contends the current practice flies in the face of the Tennessee Constitution. The constitution says judges of the Supreme, Circuit and Chancery Courts, and other inferior courts “shall be elected by the qualified voters of the State.”
“The constitution governs how we do business and do public policy in the state,” said Casada, R-Franklin. “To be out of compliance is wrong. If you can’t comply with the most basic, how can you trust us to comply with other parts of the law as well?”
The narrow vote shows there is still distinct division in the GOP-run Legislature over the best way to go about choosing who should sit on the bench in the state’s highest courts.
The measure, HB173, would have required high-ranking judges to face popular elections beginning in August 2014 instead of the yes/no retention elections they now face every eight years.
The Senate considered amendments to the state Constitution earlier Wednesday, but isn’t expected to vote on the plans until next week.
SJR183 would allow the General Assembly to solidify the current practice of the governor appointing judges who later face retention elections, called the Tennessee Plan.
SJR710, on the other hand, would require the governor’s judicial appointments to win approval from the General Assembly. Those judges would also face retention elections to renew their terms.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rep. Glen Casada is moving ahead with a bill calling for the popular election of Supreme Court justices, a position that’s at odds with the wishes of fellow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and the speakers of both chambers.
Casada’s bill would allow for contested judicial elections in August 2014. Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey have called for putting a proposed constitutional amendment before the voters in November of that year seeking to cement the current system of judicial appointments by the governor followed by yes-no retention elections.
“Everybody in leadership should be accountable to the voters, first and foremost,” Casada, R-Franklin, said in an interview at the legislative office complex Monday. “That’s why I like the bill, and why I’m pushing it.”
Casada’s bill was scheduled for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning. (Update note: The vote was postponed.)
“I think I’ve got the votes, and my intention is to run it,” Casada said.
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.
Dirty Taxing Secret?
Gail Kerr opines on a “dirty little secret” about Tennessee taxation as the Legislature moves toward l granting a bit of a break to lower-income folks who pay the Hall Income Tax, banning forever a real income tax and protecting $6 billion or so in sales tax exemptions. So how can the legislature on the one hand continue to support a tax that hits Tennessee’s oldest people hardest, while campaigning and beating their chests against any form of income tax? The answer is simple: They refuse to replace the revenue in some other way. Because everywhere they turn, there’s a lobbyist supporting a special interest that would get hit hard if widespread changes were made. Cagle the Convert
Frank Cagle declares that he has changed his views from supporting popular election of officeholders to favor having more of them appointed, as currently the case with the state attorney general, comptroller, secretary of state, lieutenant governor, etc. In that spirit and with the zeal of a new convert, I propose that we just haven’t gone far enough. We had a very expensive gubernatorial election campaign last year; we do it every four years. When these candidates run, they accept contributions from a wide variety of people. How corrupt can you get?
I think we change the constitution and allow the Legislature to appoint the governor. They already appoint the lieutenant governor.
Just think how much better it will be. We can do a nationwide search, hire consultants (creating jobs), and appoint just the right person. We don’t have to stay in-state. Remember that our last two governors moved to Tennessee as adults. We could go hire Jeb Bush. Maybe we could get Bill Clinton to come out of retirement. The sky’s the limit. We’d have to pay more of course. But we could offer to pay the appointed governor as much as, say, an appointed school superintendent. Foreclosing Differences
The bill to reduce the number and size of published foreclosure notices is the subject of op-ed pieces Sunday in The Tennessean. Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, sponsor of the bill writes the pro piece. Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, does the con side. Amazon Tax Warriors
The dispute over whether Amazon should collect sales taxes is personalized by Pam Strickland in the News Sentinel and Mark Kennedy in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
News release from National Popular Vote Campaign:
WASHINGTON – Senator Fred Thompson was named national co-champion of the non-partisan National Popular Vote campaign Thursday, saying the nation cannot “run the risk of having a president who is handicapped by not having won the most popular votes.”
“We live in a time when the American people are increasingly cynical about their government’s ability to deal with our most pressing problems,” said Thompson. “This means that there is a need for bold, effective presidential leadership as never before.
“Therefore, we simply can no longer afford to run the risk of having a president who is handicapped by not having won the most popular votes. The National Popular Vote approach offers the states a way to deal with this issue in a way that is totally consistent with our constitutional principles.”