California Legislature Passes National Popular Vote Plan Bill

On July 14, the California legislature passed AB 459, the National Popular Vote plan bill. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it. It had been amended slightly in the Senate, but the Assembly passed the amended version shortly after the Senate vote. Thanks to John Koza and Thomas Jones for this news.

Only one Republican voted for it in the Assembly, and no Senate Republicans voted for it. The bill had passed the California legislature in the past, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had vetoed it.


California Legislature Passes National Popular Vote Plan Bill — No Comments

  1. Most of the public knows nothing about NPV, even its existence. I expect that will begin to change with Brown’s signature.

    The anti-NPV campaign will begin to kick into second gear now.

  2. #1 Wop Cop,

    Is the anti-NPV campaign even in first gear? Who is your anti-NPV crowd? Are you expecting some sort of undreground lobby by the chambers of commerce of the traditional 5-7 swing states?

    You are right on one thing though…there will be change once Gov. Moon Beam and California is in the fold and the NPV is at almost 50% of the EC votes necessary. The public will move toward it not away from it.

  3. On August 8th, 10am Hawaii time, any supporters of this POS will seriously change their tune.

  4. #3:

    Oh, will you be playing chicken little and shouting that Buzz Windrip could get the nomination?

  5. 2 –

    Ummm…I’m very much in favor of NPV. Have been since it started, and I’ve posted many times in this space to that effect.

    But to answer your question, I think the “anti-NPV crowd” is largely Republican, and they will do what they can to stop a change in the current process of electing our president, one which they feel rightly or not is presently favorable to their chances of electing Republican presidents.

    I agree with you that as the media gives this compact more exposure, the public will gravitate more toward than against it, but that will happen in spite of a concerted, coordinated effort on the part of the right wing media.

    Now…Any other questions?

  6. NPV passed basically party line in yet one more deep blue state. The NPV campaign dumped big money in an attempt to win Republican support. And failed. There are not enough blue states, at least for now, for NPV to succeed. (And the history of attempts to get rid of the Electoral College is that the more public attention it gets, the worse it does.)

    NPV is a shortsighted attempt by the political left to do something that they believe will help them politically. It will fail both because it is partisan and because it could seriously destabilize our national politics.

  7. #5:

    Sorry about any tone that might have come from my post. Maybe I should have said “the” anti-party crowd instead of “your”.

    I do have another question. Why Baronscarpia?

  8. #6:

    “seriously destabilize national politics”?!

    So if national politics actually becomes national (novel idea!) that will be a destabilizing event?! SOS, can you explain further or give a single example of how this destabilization will happen.

  9. #6:

    I agree. This is potentially another nail in the 10th Amendment’s proverbial coffin.

  10. In getting NPV passed, not all states are equal. When Gov Brown signs the NPV legislation in California that will contribute a whopping 55 EV’s toward the 270 necessary to put NPV into effect. NPV would democratize the election of the President, but I don’t see it offering any particular advantage to either major national party except in those extremely rare circumstances (2000 is the one case since the 19th C)when under the present system the popular winner loses in the EC. It may be true that it would advantage some particular states that are now disadvantaged and vice-versa.

  11. A candidate has won the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide in 4 of the nation’s 56 (1 in 14 = 7%) presidential elections. The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system is highlighted by the fact that a shift of a few thousand votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections since World War II. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.

    In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives already agree that, only 7-14 states and their voters will matter under the current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states. Candidates will not care about at least 72% of the voters– voters in 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and in 16 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. 2012 campaigning would be even more obscenely exclusive than 2008 and 2004. In 2008, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). 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.

    Now, policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing, too.

    National Popular Vote assures that every vote is equal and that every voter will matter in every state in every presidential election, as in virtually every other election in the country.

  12. Save Our States knows very well that The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach that preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

    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). Support is strong among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group surveyed in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%,, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and border states: AR – 80%,, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should get elected.

    By state (electoral college votes), by political affiliation, support for a national popular vote in recent polls has been:

    Alaska (3)- 78% among (Democrats), 66% among (Republicans), 70% among Nonpartisan voters, 82% among Alaska Independent Party voters, and 69% among others.
    Arkansas (6)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 79% (Independents).
    California (55)– 76% (D), 61% (R), and 74% (I)
    Colorado (9)- 79% (D), 56% (R), and 70% (I).
    Connecticut (7)- 80% (D), 67% (R), and 71% others
    Delaware (3)- 79% (D), 69% (R), and 76% (I)
    District of Columbia (3)- 80% (D), 48% (R), and 74% of (I)
    Idaho(4) – 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others
    Florida (29)- 88% (D), 68% (R), and 76% others
    Iowa (6)- 82% (D), 63% (R), and 77% others
    Kentucky (8)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 70% (I)
    Maine (4) – 85% (D), 70% (R), and 73% others
    Massachusetts (11)- 86% (D), 54% (R), and 68% others
    Michigan (16)- 78% (D), 68% (R), and 73% (I)
    Minnesota (10)- 84% (D), 69% (R), and 68% others
    Mississippi (6)- 79% (D), 75% (R), and 75% Others
    Nebraska (5)- 79% (D), 70% (R), and 75% Others
    Nevada (5)- 80% (D), 66% (R), and 68% Others
    New Hampshire (4)- 80% (D), 57% (R), and 69% (I)
    New Mexico (5)- 84% (D), 64% (R), and 68% (I)
    New York (29) – 86% (D), 66% (R), 78% Independence Party members, 50% Conservative Party members, 100% Working Families Party members, and 7% Others
    North Carolina (15)- 75% liberal (D), 78% moderate (D), 76% conservative (D), 89% liberal (R), 62% moderate (R) , 70% conservative (R), and 80% (I)
    Ohio (18)- 81% (D), 65% (R), and 61% Others
    Oklahoma (7)- 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others
    Oregon (7)- 82% (D), 70% (R), and 72% (I)
    Pennsylvania (20)- 87% (D), 68% (R), and 76% (I)
    Rhode Island (4)- 86% liberal (D), 85% moderate (D), 60% conservative (D), 71% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), 35% conservative (R), and 78% (I),
    South Dakota (3)- 84% (D), 67% (R), and 75% others
    Tennessee (11) –78% (D), 73% (R)
    Utah (6)- 82% (D), 66% (R), and 75% others
    Vermont (3)- 86% (D); 61% (R), and 74% Others
    Virginia (13)- 79% liberal (D), 86% moderate (D), 79% conservative (D), 76% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), and 54% conservative (R), and 79% Others
    Washington (12)- 88% (D), 65% (R), and 73% others
    West Virginia (5)- 87% (D), 75% (R), and 73% others
    Wisconsin (10)- 81% (D), 63% (R), and 67% (I)
    Wyoming (3) – 77% (D), 66% (R), and 72% (I)

  13. #9:

    Bob, you do realize that the individual STATES are choosing NPV. Sounds like states rights to me.

  14. Direct Democracy national elections seem too much like “mob rule” to me.

    I believe that the names of Presidential candidates should not even appear on ballots. Voters in each district should elect an individual they respect and trust to become a member of the Electoral College, which would then select the President and Vice President. It would be more in keeping with the vision of the Founders.

  15. @14

    Electing a president (with or without the EC) is not direct democracy, if we had a direct democracy, we wouldn’t have a president at all…

  16. @14 – Aaron, finally someone else on this forum with some common sense. Thank you! Having presidential electors instead of candidates on the ballot causes campaigning for principles, not demagoguery media-hyped hero worship. Presidential elector candidates can be chosen early and campaign well ahead of the nominating conventions.

  17. @17

    Thank you for your kind words.

    One redeeming aspect of an independent Electoral College is that those making the decision for who shall serve as President and Vice President are less likely to be swayed by the shallow campaigns of today. The relatively small number elected to these positions understand the magnitude of the decision they are required to make and are more likely to approach it with a sense of deliberation and contemplation.

    NPV and any other manner of direct election results in an argumentum ad populum.

    Think of it the same way one would think of a jury. We are far better off having twelve individuals decide the fate of someone’s guilt or innocence. Can you imagine a system where we would have a popular vote to decide such a weighty matter?

    It would be essential to its good function that those elected to the Electoral College not be formally bound by law to any particular candidate. Their decisions should emerge based on their careful consideration of the merits of those seeking the highest offices of the land.

  18. 1. NO uniform definition of Elector in the NPV Scheme from HELL.

    2. NO approval by the gerrymander Congress of the NPV obvious interState Compact Scheme from Hell — Art. I, Sec. 10.

    3. A BLATANT violation of the EQUAL protection clause in 14th Amdt, Sec. 1 INSIDE a SOVEREIGN State by the NPV scheme from Hell — along with a BLATANT violation of 14th Amdt, Sec. — Electoral College votes INSIDE a State being determined by the results OUTSIDE of such State.

    How EVIL STUPID are the EVIL morons hyping the NPV scheme from Hell ??? — regardless of ALL of the polls in the States.

    Proper remedy – Const. Amdt.

    Uniform definition of Elector-Voter in ALL of the U.S.A.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V. — including Prez/VP.

    BUT – this is the E-V-I-L New Age of EVIL MORONS with their EVIL New Age schemes from Hell — See Hitler in Germany in 1933.

    SCOTUS awaits to deal with the EVIL Morons from Hell.

  19. 7 –

    I think you’ve sniffed it out. Although “Jackie” isn’t my favorite composer, his “shabby little shocker,” as it was called once, is one of my favorite operas.

  20. 19 –

    If for no other reason, I’d like to see the compact approved to see how the USSC would anguish over how to overrule a “right” specifically given to the states by the Constitution. If they did so there would be no longer any doubt that political motivation trumps phony “strict constructionist” constitutional analysis. The opinion would be a gem for the ages.

    17 –

    Having proxies for presidential candidates would lift elections above politics? Why, exactly? Wouldn’t be easier and cheaper to simply require candidates to campaign in Darth Vader masks with voice modulators? Oh…on their knees, too, since we don’t want to know how tall they are. And with bosom straps as well, so we won’t know whether they’re females.

  21. 14 –

    There were many reasons why the EC was conceived. You touch on one. There were others, of course. Just one as an example: The Con Con had dragged on for several months in terribly hot and humid weather, with delegates working with closed windows for secrecy. Most wanted to get home and tend to agrarian matters in the fall.

    But as for the “mob rule” theory, there were indeed delegates who did not trust the public to choose a worthy president. Among other reasons was the fact that at that time the qualifications and philosophies of some men who might run for the presidency would not be well known to the people at large. So, there was a fear that a relatively few people could actually get mainly by national name recognition. The delegates, many of whom had served in Congress and in state legislatures, thought that state legislators would be better informed and therefore better equipped to make choices from among candidates, some of whom might be relative unknown but nevertheless qualified for office.

    So, that was one purpose of the FF’s in creating the EC. Now, if act as “originalists” and remain steadfast in perpetuating their beliefs, do we adopt a method of electing the president that puts the power of doing so into the hands of politicians?


    Many FF’s were slave holders. Most felt women should not vote or hold property. How far are you willing to go to stay true to the beliefs of Founding Fathers?

    If you’re truly afraid of “mob rule” you ought to consider what happened in Ohio in 2004. A very small “mob” worked very hard and succeeded in swinging one state, and the election, to the candidate of their choice. It could just as well have been the work of Democrats, and has been in prior elections. The EC, and winner take all laws, coupled with modern and precise pre-election polling analysis, makes illegal activities focused on one or two “battleground states” very appealing to those who would break the law to see their candidate win.

    Are you really happy with that system and its obvious flaws?

  22. The E.C. was one more EVIL scheme dreamed up by the EVIL robot party hacks from the small States and the EVIL slave States in the top secret (behind closed doors) 1787 Fed Convention.

    The EVIL 3 ANTI-Democracy minority rule gerrymanders in the U.S.A. regime –
    House of Reps
    Electoral College.

    1/2 votes x 1/2 gerrymander areas = 1/4 control

    much worse in the gerrymander Senate — about 1/10 control — due to many below average small States.

    Primary gerrymander math even much worse.

    Democracy NOW

    1.Uniform definition of Elector-Voter in ALL of the U.S.A.

    2.P.R. and

    3. nonpartisan App.V. — Fed, States, local

    Back to Hell for all of the New Age EVIL statutory fix schemes from Hell.

    Begin with 1787 EVIL ROT (political brain cancer) >>> the current 2011 EVIL in Deficit City.

  23. @19 Perhaps there is an argument in there somewhere, but I’m not seeing it.

    You should note that I state “more likely.” I don’t believe that humans are without flaws. But I do believe that systems can be designed to obviate some of our worse excesses and the Founders did much to study the weaknesses of prior civilizations in attempting to design a system that had many checks and balances against the abuse of power, including those abuses wielded by a majority.

  24. @24 I’m not persuaded by the “Founders were slaveholders” argument, therefore all of their views are without merit. One can easily imagine a future society where everyone will be vegetarian and some will argue that you can’t subscribe to the views of some of those folks from the 21st century because – horror, among horrors! – some of those folks back then actually found it acceptable to eat animal flesh.

    Absolutely, I’m much happier with an indirect election for President through an EC over any imagined system of direct selection by everyone at large.

    The founders even had the wisdom to know that members of Congress should not serve as electors.

    Article 2, Section 1, Clause 2:

    “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”

    While much went into the design of our system of governance, I would propose several minor reforms to the Electoral College system, some of which I have mentioned.

    • First, I would not have anything on the ballot other than the name of the elector and perhaps his own statement of qualifications – there would be no indicator as to whom the elector is inclined to support. There would be no such thing as a “faithless elector” because one is not asking them to legally pledge allegiance to any particular set of candidates.

    • Second, I would have it so that each district would decide its own elector, rather than an entire state vote for a slate of electors.

    • Third, I would have the size of Congressional districts reduced to no more than 50,000 people per representative, which would also increase the number of electoral districts throughout the country to roughly 6,000. It should be reasonably possible for an elector to be generally well known throughout the district.

    • Fourth, I would extend the prohibition on those who may serve as electors, such that any person holding an elected office in the State’s legislature would also be prohibited from serving as an elector, similar to the existing prohibition on members of Congress serving in that capacity.

  25. #26/19 The California Constitution says that if a political party participates in the presidential primary they are entitled to participate in the presidential election. Participation would be understood to mean, that the party would be entitled to have the party nominee appear on every ballot and be counted. It would be unconstitutional for California to not place the name of the Libertarian nominee on the ballot in Modoc County, or not count the votes. It wouldn’t work for California to argue that Modoc has a small population or that the Libertarian Party was a loony fringe group.

    The courts would rule that not only were Modoc voters disenfranchised, but so were voters in San Francisco who supported Libertarian Party presidential candidates.

    So why may California enter into a compact to count “votes” from places where Libertarian candidates do not appear on the ballot, and where even write-in votes are not counted? It can’t. California may not lawfully enter into a compact to engage in activities that it would be unlawful to engage in by itself.

  26. How many States manage to survive by having ALL of the Electors in the State have an EQUAL vote for voting for Statewide officers — Govs, etc. ???

    What is the EVIL fixation with gerrymander State boundaries and the E.C. — created by DEAD kings (early colonies/States – Brit charters) and then by the DEAD party hacks in the gerrymander Congress after 1789 ???

  27. 27 –

    I did not make the case that because FF’s owned slaves “all” of their views are without merit.

    Not even close.

  28. Each gerrymander Prez since 1832 has de facto been elected with about 28-32 percent of the total popular votes in the States/DC having a bare majority of the total E.C. votes.

    Each robot party hack Prez cares ONLY about brainwashing the mushhead *independents* in the marginal E.C. gerrymander areas — if he/she/it is running for a second term.

  29. If you can’t get your own way, “change the rules!” NPV is for whiners who have no understanding of the purpose of representative government and the benefits of republican form of government over democratic.

  30. 32 –

    Ahhh…the “losers are whiners” argument. And they just don’t understand the republican form of government.

    Good stuff, that!

    NPV changes no rules, at least none of the rules established by the Founding Fathers when they created the Electoral College. States did, and states will continue to allocate their electors in whatever manner their legislatures may direct, just as the boys in Philadelphia wrote the rules. NPV is perfectly consistent with that “rule.”

    So stop whining about that. If you don’t like the rule, get a Constitutional amendment passed.

    And BTW…if NPV passes, we will still have a republican form of government, unless someone renovates the Capitol to make it big enough for all of us to represent ourselves in Congress.

  31. 28 –

    Thanks, Jim, for a preview of the tortured legal arguments I predicted in 23 above.

  32. 14th Amdt, Secs. 1 and 2 prevail over ANY earlier stuff — including Art. II, Sec. 1 and the 12th Amdt.

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