Money in politics and Electoral College on the way out?
Gov Schwarzenegger and the Christian Science Monitor help electoral reform
Like monkeys letting go of the last branch to reach for the next one, so must humans release the flawed to grab the sound. When they do, we want you to know; economic progress probably needs political progress, especially something as transformative as geonomics. We trim and present two 2008 articles, one from The Christian Science Monitor of September 3 by Staff Writer Gregory M. Lamb and the other a press release from the California Clean Money Campaign whose Executive Director is Julie Rajan.
by Lamb and RajanLamb: To John Koza’s way of thinking, the United States won’t be holding a true national election for president this November. And that’s made him eager to make a change: Revise the system to send the candidate with the most votes to the White House.
The problem is the Electoral College, which decides the election’s winner. Since electoral votes are tallied state by state, it turns out that the results from only about a quarter of the 50 states really matter. Candidates focus “battleground states” and ignore others.
Four times in US history -- 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000 -- the candidate with the most popular votes did not win the White House because he had fewer votes in the Electoral College, which is based on the size of each state’s congressional delegation.
In 2006 Koza, a computer scientist who co-invented the rub-off instant lottery ticket used by state lotteries, founded the National Popular Vote initiative to encourage states to enact legislation that would give their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationwide, thus ensuring that the candidate with the most popular votes always wins the election.
So far, four states – Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland – with 50 combined electoral votes have enacted bills that would give their electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote. Similar legislation has passed one or both houses in more than a dozen other states.
Once states with at least 270 combined electoral votes (the minimum needed for electing a president) enact legislation, the change would go into effect, since the winner in the Electoral College would also have to have a popular vote majority.
Efforts to change or abolish the Electoral College are hardly new. Some 800 proposed amendments to get rid of it have been introduced in Congress since the early 19th century. The 1969-70 Congress nearly sent such legislation to President Nixon, who was ready to sign it; the amendment easily passed the House, but a filibuster by a handful of lawmakers in the Senate killed it.
Today, national and state polls consistently show about 70 percent of Americans favor direct election of the president. The American public eventually would want to pass a constitutional amendment, too.
Rajan: In what Center for Governmental Studies' President Bob Stern termed "the biggest political upset of the year in California", AB 583, the California Fair Elections Act (Hancock, D-Oakland), has now been signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger after having passed through the legislature on August 30th. A measure providing for "Fair Elections" public financing of campaigns for the office of Secretary of State as a pilot project will now appear on the June 8, 2010 ballot. Even one of the Assembly opponents of the bill had called its passage a "historic moment" in California.
After nearly $400 million was spent by candidates in California alone in the 2006 election, most observers thought it was highly unlikely that a public financing bill that would start to end the dominance of special interest campaign contributors would ever get passed and signed in Sacramento. But thousands of California voters who contacted their legislators and the efforts of AB 583 author Assemblymember Loni Hancock and Senate and Assembly leaders got it to the Governor's desk.
Governor Schwarzenegger made the problem of money in politics one of the focuses of his recall election campaign. As he said in a campaign commercial then, "Special interests have a stranglehold on Sacramento. Here's how it works. The money comes in. The favors go out. The people lose."
AB 583 would establish a pilot project for voluntary full public financing system for Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018 if it is passed by a vote of the people on the June 2010 ballot. It is modeled after systems that have been working in Arizona and Maine for eight years and recently adopted by Connecticut and other localities.
Former Assemblymember Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills) said: "There is bipartisan concern about the corrupting influence of money in politics."
Author Assemblymember Hancock, who shepherded the bill during the two years of the just ended session, said: "It's been a long and hard road. But I am thrilled that the California Fair Elections Act will now be appearing on the June 2010 ballot.”
Flunk the Electoral College
A national editor asks: Must taxpayers pay for primaries?
Real Democracy Or Dystopia
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