Massachusetts to Award Electoral Votes Based on National Vote?

Both the Massachusetts House and Senate have approved the National Popular Vote Bill, which would give the presidential candidate with the most overall votes nationally the state’s 12 electoral votes.

According to the Boston Globe:

Final enactment votes are needed in both chambers, however, before the bill goes to the governor’s desk, the Globe reported last week.

Governor Deval Patrick’s press office didn’t immediately return a message this morning seeking comment on whether he would sign the bill, if it makes its way to his desk.

Critics say the current system is not broken. They also point to the disturbing scenario that Candidate X wins nationally, but Candidate Y has won in Massachusetts. In that case, all of the state’s 12 electoral votes would go to Candidate X, the candidate who was not supported by Massachusetts voters.…

On one hand, I would welcome the switch to a straight national vote: the most votes wins, period. Simple and pure.

But I think to do so, the electoral college must be abolished everywhere.  Otherwise, like in the above example, Massachusetts votes would be rendered meaningless, as our electoral votes would go to the winner of the national vote (and realistically, MA has little chance of swinging the national vote one way or the other).

So, unless and until this legislation is passed in every state (at which point it would be easier to just abolish the electoral college), I do not see much benefit in enacting it here in MA.

About Brent041

  • going anywhere….just like the senate succession rules.  Wait until a GOP candidate wins the national vote, but MA votes DEM by a wide margin….take them about 11.5 minutes to change it back to the way it is now… will be another emergency.

  • where the solution is worse than the problem. Folks like to dump on the electoral college, but it has its merits. In the only recent election(2000) where the winner of the popular vote didn’t also win the electoral college, the margin of victory was a little better than 100,000 votes. If memory serves that’s a little more than 1 vote per precinct, which would have required a nationwide recount. Did the folks pushing this bill forget the chaos when the recount was limited to just one state(Florida)?

    I say keep the electoral college. If for no other reason, it will keep whatever the next iteration of ACORN from being able to steal a presidential election like they did the senate race in MN. Illegal votes, cast by felons put Sen. Franken in office, let’s make sure illegal votes can’t put him in the White House.

  • this change will not affect the 2010 election cycle.the 2012 election cycle will be affected.this is a big gift to president obama.the political machine is going after senator brown with a clear mission.

  • amother example or lefties not giving a shit about the Constitution.  You want to get rid of the EC…have your Congressman file a freakin Amendment.  

    Yeah, it’s a swell idea to remove the power of my vote.

    ….you assume that MA will never swing or otherwise assist in an election.   Just think of a day when there are more than just 2 viable parties.

  • Our guys offer a simple amendment to see how the voters of our state feel about this. Of course it’s rejected, though the vote was much closer than normal.


    amendment relative to a referendum.

    Sen. Tisei said, I don’t understand what the emergency is to get it

    passed. There is all this other stuff we are doing. This bill seems

    like the number one item. But so be it. It is what it is. We have a

    number of amendments. This amendment is pretty simple. We wouldn’t

    change the compact at all. We would let the voters decide if they

    want to change the way their vote is counted. We have a system set up

    where the majority of residents vote for president, their vote goes

    to whoever wins the state. And if we’re going to change that, why

    don’t we let the residents of the state decide. A non-binding

    referendum question. It would be non-binding, just put it out there

    this election for the next presidential election. What a great

    opportunity this is, because it would be a terrific civics lesson for

    a lot residents who do not have the knowledge of how our Founding

    Fathers set up the system. All this amendment does is put it on the

    ballot this November and pretty much lets the people decide. I hope

    when a vote is taken on this matter it be taken by a call of the yeas and nays.

    There was support.

    Sen. Eldridge said, I rise in opposition to the amendment. I do

    believe there is majority support to pass the bill today. I think

    it’s time for us to have a final up or down vote on the main bill.

    The amendment offered by the minority leader is a non-binding

    referendum, so it would not establish any law. Now is the time to

    vote on this bill and unfortunately this amendment is a sneaky and

    cynical approach. This action is going on all across the United

    States and in different state houses, to get to the point where the

    president of the United States is elected by a majority of people. We

    want to apply that same democratic standard to how the president is

    elected. It’s not the first time it’s been filed. It’s entirely

    something that’s constitutional and legal. Let’s defeat this

    amendment and go on to the main measure of the bill.

    Sen. Pacheco said, I rise in support of the amendment before us. The

    amendment before us seeks to ask the people of Massachusetts how they

    want their electoral college votes to be used. How they want the

    structure to be set up. I really don’t think it’s sneaky to publicly

    have a ballot vote, asking the people of the Commonwealth how they

    want their electoral college votes passed, what process they would

    like to use. Going along with the process that we have had for

    hundreds of years or to head in a different direction. For what we’re

    really talking about is how Massachusetts electoral college votes are

    cast whether they will reflect the will of the people of

    Massachusetts or not. So I think they do have a say in this. It’s

    their vote. Yes, we are a representative democracy and we are here

    part of that. But I think the motion that is before us, the

    suggestion that is before us, is fair, it’s not outrageous. We don’t

    have to do this tomorrow or this year. Not all the states are

    discussing this. There are some legislatures that are out of session.

    They’ll be deliberating this next year or the year after. It’s not

    something with a time limit to get this done. We have an election

    coming up in November. Maybe it would be possible to have it on the

    ballot. What’s wrong with that? So because the gentleman’s motion is

    reasonable and seeks to ask the opinion of the people of

    Massachusetts, I stand in support of the motion.

    Sen. Chang-Diaz said, I rise in opposition to the amendment. Voters

    send us here to do our job, to take votes on issues. I know the

    difference between the question before us today or whether we should

    do plan design or right to repair. They sent us here to do the job.

    On this amendment, I ask my colleagues for a no vote.

    Sen. Tisei said, I do think letting people decide how they want their

    electoral votes to be passed is something important and the voters

    should decide. The way you describe it, it’s a willy-nilly thing. I

    think it’s a little more important than that. That’s why I’m

    concerned with this bill. By passing this bill, we’re changing the

    electoral system in this country that’s worked so well for so long.

    If you’re going to go ahead and do it, why not let the people vote?

    It’s arrogant to say we’re going to decide, you can’t decide how your

    own votes are counted. Look at the election in 1972. Massachusetts

    was the only state that voted for McGovern. We were probably pretty

    smart to do that given what came later with Watergate and so forth,

    but people in Massachusetts were very proud of the fact that they

    recognized Richard Nixon for who he was. When you really think these

    things through, you’re just giving away the state’s sovereignty in a

    way and electoral votes without letting the people of the state

    decide. What a great civics debate we’ll have in every corner of the

    Commonwealth. We can explain to kids what the Founding Fathers had in

    mind. We can talk about the Federalist Papers and the constitutional

    convention. I think it’s a good thing to do. I hope the amendment is adopted.

    Sen. Donnelly said, I would hope the amendment is rejected. We’ve had

    this tabled, we’ve had the discussion, let’s get on with the main

    motion. This is another way of delaying it. We were sent here to do

    what’s in the best interest of the members of our district. Every

    four years I’ve watched as the president of the U.S. goes up to the

    Littleton diner in New Hampshire. It would be nice to see the

    president come to our diner. Every year we see the president campaign

    going to Akron, Ohio. I would like to see the president come to Fall

    River and New Bedford. I want to see the president come and talk

    about our fishing industry instead of going to Iowa and talking about

    farming. We should have a voice in the next president. One thing we

    found out last January, everybody considered us a blue state. It

    didn’t quite end up that way because we ended up a little red. I

    believe we need a full debate. I want to see the president as a

    candidate come to Massachusetts. The only we can do that is get rid

    of the blue states, red states and have the United States.

    Sen. Tarr said, These are the United States. And they are governed by

    a constitution, and that constitution sets out the process it can be

    amended. I agree with the prior speaker. We should have a debate, a

    full and fair debate, to transform the commonwealth, because the

    public got involved. A lot of folks said they wouldn’t make a

    difference in the last senatorial election. Who are we to presume

    that they don’t want to get involved in this debate? The constitution

    can be modified by the ratification of the states. And that requires

    referenda. We are trying to prevent the proponents from taking away

    the vote. How ironic it would be if we deprive the people of the vote

    in this matter. It’s inconceivable that someone would suggest that we

    would withhold the public’s ability through the constitution. I hope

    we don’t do that. I hope the amendment is adopted.

    Sen. Kennedy said, It’s a matter that’s been adopted by the House of

    Representatives. It’s a matter that’s been before my committee on

    state elections and previous legislatures. It’s had full open debate,

    full Consideration. It’s the right process for thousands of bills

    that have been heard by us. It has been determined that no further

    statewide ballot questions can be placed because of logistics. This

    is the first time I’ve heard about it. It’s not going to be on the

    November ballot.

    Sen. Fargo said, I oppose this amendment. I think many of us received

    a letter from a professor from the Kennedy School of Government, who

    is a scholar of American Democracy. The arguments for replacing the

    national college are strong. The electoral college is an archaic

    institution that has never functioned as intended. It emerged from

    the constitutional convention as a hybrid and compromise, closely

    tied to the political interests of the slave states. It now deforms

    national political campaigns in ways that are damaging to our

    democracy. There have been numerous efforts to try to get rid of it

    and change it. It is an archaic institution. The founders of our

    country were not sure how this experiment was going to work so they

    wanted some insurance. I think by now we can be safely assured that

    our citizens are able to cast a vote and have it count.

    The time was 7:03 p.m.

    Sen. Fargo said, I rise in opposition to the amendment because you

    have to understand and I think most of you do, a non-binding vote

    still puts the issue back on the Legislature. It is an exercise that

    may indeed be interesting for classroom, but I think all of us agree

    that there is overwhelming support for the goal here: one person, one

    vote. Everyone gets that. Everyone becomes discouraged when one

    person wins with less votes than the other. I want to thank the

    gentleman from Acton and the gentleman from Brockton for their work

    on this legislation. I think the only thing we’re disagreeing is the

    vehicle on getting to the destination. One person, one vote, all

    states equal. I want my vote to count as much as a citizen’s in New

    Hampshire. I want my constituent’s vote to count as much as those in

    other states’. This train is leaving the station and many states have

    gotten on board. This is an appropriate, constitutional, legal and

    fair way to ensure your constituents’ votes count as much as votes in

    neighboring states. I think this is a dilatory package. The fact that

    it’s non-binding, which can’t make the November ballot, shows it’s

    very clever, but nonetheless dilatory.

    Sen. Tisei said, There’s no law that says this cannot be put on the

    ballot as a non-binding referendum. I’m sorry if the secretary of

    state says he has the book all put together and doesn’t have time.

    Let him put in an insert. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. There

    are voters out there who are cynical about it. It’s still worth

    putting it out there for a vote. It is sort of arrogant attitude, and

    that’s why people are so upset with federal government and state

    government. They feel the representatives who are elected, that

    there’s a disconnect between what we’re doing and what they’re doing.

    The electoral college has prevented regional candidates. What this

    change will end up doing is that it will fractionalize the country.

    You will get regional candidates. This is serious business. Again, I

    hope the amendment is adopted.

    Sen. Chang-Diaz said, I’m a little bit confused if it’s an important

    issue for the commonwealth to deal with today or it’s not. He’s

    argued both sides of the question today. I wonder if he wants to

    clarify. Beyond that, I would simply add that there are some other

    people who feel it is the legislature to determine this question and

    decide how electoral votes are apportioned. Those people were the

    framers of the Constitution. They said in Article 1 section 2, states

    will appoint in such matter as the legislature may direct. That’s us.

    Sen. Walsh said, I rise with the same angst and concern about how we

    elect our president. And I have on occasion found myself in agreement

    with the minority leader. I think it’s a very good thing for our

    commonwealth to have a non-binding question. The electoral college

    doesn’t have too much of a following from Cape Cod to California. We

    have some alumni in this chamber of the electoral college. I think it

    would be helpful for Massachusetts to have a discussion on the impact

    of the electoral college. I wish it would be on the ballot in the

    whole U.S. The fact is the bill has passed both branches, but not

    until recently. We should have as much information on this as we

    possibly can we have. We should have many people recognize our

    country and our people. This move to the national popular vote is

    well-intended. That well-intended angst to right a wrong can be cured

    if we pass this measure in our body tonight. I don’t see that as a

    remedy, because we have elected members who will still be voting

    under NPV, and how will they vote. I understand I’ll be the minority

    vote, but I don’t think this is the remedy. I agree that we should

    have a loud and very intelligent conversation. It should go on the

    ballot. That’s the real remedy. It’s hard work and there’s no

    shortcuts to that conversation.

    Sen. M. Moore said, We are not doing away with the electoral college,

    we are just changing the process. We have changed the process 10

    times. Let’s put it to the voters and let’s do it right.

    BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 17-21, AMENDMENT REJECTED. The time was 7:24 p.m.