Reed Hundt

MEVC CEO Reed Hundt Speaks at Harvard Conference on Electoral College

From the Harvard Gazette:

Reed Hundt, chairman and CEO of Making Every Vote Count, said the current system “has excluded most Americans from full participation in the choice of a president. It has skewed the parties’ policies and popular bases in ways that have exacerbated social divisions [and is] racist and sexist in its effects.”

The compact “would force the parties to compete everywhere for every vote,” added Hundt, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

MEVC CEO Reed Hundt on the Path to the National Popular Vote

From the Washington Post:

Those involved in the effort [to enact the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact] doubt that the electoral college delegate procedures can be changed in enough states before the 2020 presidential election, Reed Hundt, chairman and co-founder of Making Every Vote Count, told The Washington Post.

Because Republican-controlled legislatures haven’t embraced the effort, it will be difficult to reach the 270 combined electoral votes needed to become president, he said. (They remain hopeful, though, that the compact will be in effect for the 2024 presidential election.)

To Hundt’s point, Tuesday’s vote in Nevada was along party lines, with all Republicans voting against the proposal, NPR reported.

“All the Democratic legislatures and governors will end up passing it by [next spring],” expects Hundt, who previously served as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

“The people in those states by a two-thirds margin support the national vote winner always becoming president,” he added. “They’re happy to go along with the will of the people.”

Let the People Decide if They Want the National Popular Vote

So far, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact has only been passed by Democratic legislatures. But it’s also possible for the people to weigh in directly via the ballot box on whether they want every vote across the country to count equally. From Time:

Reed Hundt, head of the bipartisan Making Every Vote Count advocacy group, thinks the states that will put [the Compact] over the top might instead come from a successful ballot measure driven by grassroots support. Twenty-six states allow voters to approve either an initiative or a referendum on an issue, including potential interstate-compact targets like Ohio, Missouri and Arizona.

“The important thing is public opinion,” the former FCC chairman said. “The American people by large numbers need to say, ‘What’s up with this 18th century artifact? We don’t need to let it pick the president for us. We should pick ourselves.’”

Hundt remains optimistic that it will succeed eventually, in part because he thinks Electoral College results will increasingly cut against the popular will. A statistical analysis in 2017 done for Making Every Vote Count predicted splits between the Electoral College and the popular vote could happen in nearly one out of three elections in the next century, and neither party is likely to have a long-term advantage.

Based on how members of both parties have reacted in the past, a Republican loss under those circumstances would likely move public opinion on the right pretty quickly. And that, Hundt believes, could be what finally makes the difference.

White Supremacy’s Anvil: The Electoral College

Take a look at this illuminating history of the Electoral College from Making Every Vote Count Co-Founder and CEO Reed Hundt on Medium. It discusses how the Electoral College was conceived to protect the institution of slavery, and how the Electoral College worked to create and preserve Jim Crow long after slavery was officially abolished.

Updated - 2020 Forecast

As of today, revised vote totals show that the Democrats won the most votes cast in House races in states totaling more than 270 electoral votes. Consequently, we conclude that the Democrats won the mock electoral college based on Tuesday's results.

More vote counting might flip the electoral college back to the Republicans but for now we have to wait. 

Here is an updated list of states won by the Republicans based on revised vote totals. These may shift again. A number of the states are very close. As of now, the Republican electoral vote count would be: 253. 

Alabama 9

Alaska 3

Arizona 11

Arkansas 6

Florida 29

Georgia 16

Idaho 4

Indiana 11

Kansas 6

Kentucky 8

Louisiana 8

Mississippi 6

Missouri 10

Montana 3

Nebraska 5

North Carolina 15

North Dakota 3

Ohio 18

Oklahoma 7

South Carolina 9

South Dakota 3

Tennessee 11

Texas 38

Utah 6

West Virginia 5

Wyoming 3

Make It Easy

There are many articles about long lines at some voting places. There is nothing good about making hard-working people take more time off in order to vote. All states should make it as efficient to vote as possible. 

It should take as long to vote as it takes to buy a hamburger at McDonald’s.

In addition all ballots should be cast on paper to make votes and recounts extremely easy. Also to maximize security. 

If the national popular vote always dictated who became president then all states would need to put better voting infrastructure in place. Congress should appropriate money for states to use for that purpose. 

Who is Gary Abernathy and How Did He Get Printed in WaPo?

Washington Post fact-checkers must be up in arms about the howlers in this Gary Abernathy article, October 25, 2018. Or maybe it’s the in-house logicians who are crying into their keyboards.

Item 1: He wrote: “American history resists the notion of a majority fully imposing its will on a minority.” He meant, presumably, that throughout history most Americans repeatedly have been denied the opportunity to have a government reflect their wishes. His statement is the principal reason why the person who wins the most votes in the whole country should always become the president.

Item 2: He claims Democrats would “almost assuredly be defending the [presidential selection] system” if their candidates had lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College. Apparently, he defends the system for the same utterly self-interested reason; namely, his preferred candidates used it to deny the will of the people. This also is an argument for changing to a democratic method of choosing the president.

Item 3: He asserts that the United States is a “collection of individual states.” Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address quashed this specious assertion: “The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution, was "to form a more perfect Union."

Item 4:  He says the “electoral college exists to protect” the “social and geographic interests” of states. People have “social and geographic interests” and they are best protected when their communities, geographic, demographic, religious, ethnic, familial, or even tribal, can vote with each vote counted equally for the political preferences that their interests lead them to have.

Item 5: “Our nation settled on the electoral college” as part of “protecting and valuing each state.” Actually, the slave state-small state alliance demanded that the anti-democratic, inequitable advantages they obtained in the compromise over the composition of the Senate and House be perpetuated in the method of choosing the president. The slave states did not want a chief executive who would oppose the expansion, or maintenance, of slavery. What was “valued” was, principally, slavery.

Item 6: “States are largely awarded electoral votes commensurate with their population.” So he claims, and then he compares West Virginia to California, noting that California has 20 times as many people and only 11 times as many electors. I do not think “commensurate” means what Abernathy thinks it means.

Item 7:  If the president were the person who won the national popular vote, then a “disproportionate majority of voters from the largest states” would be “imposing their will on the more vulnerable minority in smaller states.” There are many things wrong with this sentence, but I conclude with noting only three: (i) a majority is not “disproportionate” under a popular vote system; it is proportionate to the votes cast; (2) under the existing, anti-democratic system the “vulnerable” minorities in every state are “imposed” upon because their votes for the runner-up are discarded, meaning never counted with like-minded voters in other states possibly to form a majority opinion; (3) no candidate seeking a national win would ignore voters anywhere, because campaigns are not that dumb, whereas in the current system the two major parties do not campaign in about 40 states, with more than 80% of the population.  

No Need To Dismantle

In reviewing George Edwards’ Why the Electoral College is Bad for America  (2004), Jeffrey Cohen of Fordham University concluded: “I do not think the Founders designed the electoral college with egalitarian ends in mind, but that does not mean that, over 200 years after the adoption of the Constitution, we should not promote political equality, even if it means dismantling institutions that undermine political equality.”

Of course the granting of suffrage to former slaves and women and people aged 18 to 21 all promoted “political equality” even if the electoral system denied true equality.

But it’s also worth noting that the Electoral College does not need to be “dismantled.” Any state can choose as electors those from the party slate whose nominee for president has won the most votes cast in the United States. That would make every vote count, or matter, equally.

States Have All the Say on How They Use Their Electors

According to the Washington Post Democrats are reeling from the nomination battle by complaining about the structure of the United States Senate. The state system for composing  the senate cannot be changed by amendment or otherwise. 

On the other hand, if the incumbent president needed to win the plurality of votes cast in the nation to be reelected then you can believe that presidential appointments to the judiciary or indeed any job would be designed to appeal to the majority of the country. And it does not take a new constitutional convention or even an amendment to change the method of selecting the electors. Any state can do what it wants in this respect.

How to Boost Turnout? Create the Proper Incentives for All Parties

At this link you’ll see an article explaining the obstacles states create for voting—or, you could say, the steps the states establish to guarantee that voters are legitimate. But the article misses the main point. Because the presidential selection system takes for granted more than 80% of all voters neither major party has adequate incentive to smooth the path for people to vote. If the major party candidates had to compete to win the national popular vote, then they would each battle to reduce barriers for their likely voters to get to the polls. Each party would still insist that the opposing party not be able to perpetrate voter fraud. Yet, while still insisting on fair practices, each major party would make a concerted effort to increase turnout as much as possible on Election Day. They would have every incentive to boost turnout in every state by reducing unnecessary structural obstacles.

Sliding Away from Democracy: the Case of Poland

Anne Applebaum has published in Atlantic this chilling piece about the Polish move away from democracy. The underlying thesis: some, many perhaps, in Poland think the country is better off if it "is ruled by people who deserve to rule." The fundamental claim for democracy is that all citizens collectively should decide by a majority vote, or at least a healthy plurality, who "deserves to rule." Step one down the dismal Polish slide toward authoritarian illiberal autocracy is for citizens not to vote. The easiest way to convince people not to vote is to adopt a system in which their votes don't matter. So, to make a big story really short, Poland and the United States need to make sure that every citizen's vote really matters -- matters to the decision about who rules, matters so much that the candidates for president want and need to win most votes, matters in determining the winner, matters as much as everyone else's vote (because unequal voting power means someone's vote doesn't matter as much, and maybe doesn't matter at all). 

The United States should make sure that all votes for president matter in all these senses, and the winner of the presidential election should commit to persuading Poland and every other country of the world that following the example of this reform will make every country better off.

The Supreme Court and the National Popular Vote

The Supreme Court as an institution would be a big winner if presidential candidates had to win the national popular vote in order to prevail in the Electoral College. Why? Because the majority of people in the country prefer relatively non-partisan moderate judges who do not have an aggressively liberal or conservative philosophy. And the less political the Court appears to be, the greater the respect and approval it obtains from the populace. 

But I am a graduate of Yale Law so take this comment with lots of salt.