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What does it take to get something on the ballot?

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posted on Dec, 29 2005 @ 06:14 PM
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Say someone might like the American people to vote on if they want to abolish the electoral college, how would you go about getting it on the ballot?

I think it would be a good thing to have on the ballot, the people as a whole have plenty of info to make a responsible choice for president without having a representative vote "for" them.

I strongly believe that the president should be decided on "popular vote" alone.

Do you agree? If not, why?




posted on Dec, 29 2005 @ 09:18 PM
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The particular question you ask makes the question more difficult than most.

To eliminate the electoral college would require a constitutional amendment.

There are two ways to start the amending process. To the best of my knowledge, only one of them has ever been used.

The first way is for a proposed amendment to pass both houses of congress by a 2/3s vote (2/3s vote of a quorum in attendance, not 2/3s of all members)

The second way, which has never been used, is for 2/3s of the State legislatures to pass resolutions calling for an amending convention.

en.wikipedia.org...


When the first way is used, the proposed amendment goes straight to ratification, because it's already been specifically proposed.

If the second way were to be used, there actually isn't an amendment proposed yet, only a convention to form amendments. The federal government is then required by the constitution to arrange a meeting of state deligates who will draft any amendements they wish to make. If the convention agrees on amendments, then those amendments can go to ratification.

Ratification can work in one of two ways. The method is chosen specifically- it's one or the other, not a combination.

The most common way is to have the State legislatures vote on ratification. 3/4s of the states (rounded up, as always) must accept the amendment for it to pass.

The second option was only used once (not counting the adoption of the constitution itself). It was used to repeal prohibition with the 21st Amendment. This was done because even though everybody wanted to do it, there were a lot of politicians who didn't want to be blamed by the temperance proponents for being the ones who repealed it- it would look bad on them. So they washed their hands of it and let the people decide for themselves.

When that happens, the states hold a referendum election where the citizens can vote the amendment up or down. 3/4 of the states are required. The states can make their own rules on how they vote to ratify- they can require a simple majority, or they can require 2/3s, or anything else that state law provides for. (the same way that the current electoral system works- the states get to choose how the voting in their state works)



Now, for the private citizens of the US to actually MAKE it happen, there's really only one way, other than just threatening not to vote for people if they don't do it.
24 of the 50 states have a referendum process for passing laws. The way that works is that you have to gather a certain number of signitures in support of a bill, and if you get the required sigs, it goes on the ballot for a yes/no vote in the next election (usually even-year elections), except in the case of Arnold's Special Election and other such cases.

You can't actually propose an amendment to the US Constitution that way. But you can pass a law that requires your state legislature to demand an amending convention. The problem is, you need 2/3s of the states, which means you need 34 states. Only 24 states have the referendum. So you need to carry referendums in all 24 refendum states, then hope that 10 more states will feel the pressure and realize that the people want it, causing them to vote for a convention without a demand by referendum.

Even then, you haven't passed an amendment, only gotten a convention. It's still up to the delegates to write the amendment you wanted, and then you've got to get it approved by 3/4 of the states (38 presently).

It's very very difficult. Almost impossible. The last amendment to be adopted was in 1992, and believe it or not, it was passed as a practical joke. In 1789, an 11th amendment was proposed that would stop congress from giving itself pay raises in the same term. It was proposed successfully, but was not successfully ratified.
In 1982, 193 years later, a college student in Texas realized that the amendment did not have a sunset clause, and so could still be ratified if the states took action. So he started a campaign to pressure states to ratify it. In 1992, it was finally ratified.

Not counting that, the last time the constitution was fully amended (as in, the last time that an amendment was successfully propsed and ratified, not just taken off a shelf after 200 years in the dust) was in 1971. It's been 34 years.


It does stand mentioning that there is an amendment still technically pending ratification from 1789 that, depending on supreme court interpretation, would probably either cut the house in half or expand it to almost 6,000 members. If it was interpereted the first way, it would become much harder for democrats to win in the electoral system. If interpereted in the second, an election such as the 2000 election would in the future go Democratic. The random factor and the election-rigging motive make it completely unpassable fo course.



posted on Dec, 30 2005 @ 06:42 AM
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Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed explanation.
Looks like it might be nearly impossible for a "grassroots" effort to get anything changed.

How do you feel about the Electoral College? Do you think it's time for a change?



posted on Dec, 30 2005 @ 03:56 PM
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Yes and no. I think its important to realize that in life, especially government, almost every decision has an upside and a downside.

The Electoral College has it's merits. America's large size means that there are many different regional interests that need to be served.
There are many different local economies and many different ways of life out here. Those things have to be governed by a system that gives local areas a considerable voice against the whole.

For example, in the popular vote, the workers in a given industry have very little power. A candidate doesn't need even one vote from a guy who builds cars to win. But in the electoral system, Michigan is very important, so those candidates are going to listen very closely to what people say about will be good for people who make cars.

On the other hand though there are problems.
Some states aren't winnable, so they get ignored.
Also, some things that obviously have to be run be the pure majority of Americans. It should be impossible for America to go to war without the popular support of America. Historically, it is not uncommon for the South and the West to drag New England (and other urban areas) kicking and screaming into wars. During the War of 1812, there was talk of secession in New England so that they could make a separate peace, and New England did conduct commerce with the enemy during that war.

There are several ways to modify the Electoral system to serve both interests, although there is no perfect answer.

One proposal is to take away two electoral votes in every state. The "all or nothing" thing would still remain a problem, but small states would no longer be disproportionately represented- it would be purely population based, but the majority interest of the state would rule. This makes it slightly more fair, but still doesn't solve many of the problems, except in extremely close elections, such as 2000.


Another proposal is that a presidential candidate should have to actually win the district that an electoral vote comes from. It's slightly complicated, but I'll try to explain.
A states electoral votes are determined by the number of congressmen and senators it has.

So in this proposal, you'd get one electoral vote for each congressional district you won. If you won the popular vote for a given state, you'd get 2 electoral votes for that states two senators, but you wouldn't get the electoral votes for the congressional districts in that state that you didn't win.

This would be a pretty good system. It keeps specific industries other interests important, it cuts down on the "unwinnable" states problem, and it makes sure that fewer people are ignored.

Within districts though, you'd still have the all or nothing system going on. For example, if the district where the city of Dallas is located went Republican by only 1%, 49% of the city of Dallas basically wouldn't be counted. The other problem is that gerrymandering would affect presidential elections.



I suppose it also needs to be considered that we already have a branch of government chosen on a district by district level, as well as one chosen on a state by state level, so a popularly elected president would round things out a bit.

I've just now had an idea which I need to play with a bit, but it intrigues me. IF we were going to institute the popular vote, we might put certain checks on it.

First of all, I think I'd like to see the Secretary of State made Head of State, the Secretary of Defense made Commander in Chief, and the President remain as Chief of Government, with all three being directly elected.

Second, the rest of the cabinet would still be nominated and confirmed, but I'd like to see the confirmation process moved from the Senate to the House. I think the locally elected reps have a lot more to say about who should be secretary of agriculture than the more widely elected senators do.

Third, I think the President should be President of the Senate (seeing as many of his duties are eliminated under the first proposal I've stated) and that the Vice President should become Speaker of the House (non-voting obviously).


I've gotten a bit off of just the Electoral System proper, but what I'm getting at is a few ideas on how to amend the way we run our elections so that the will of the people is better represented.

I am well aware that nothing I've put forward is perfect (it's not all my ideas either I should point out).
In a nut-shell though, what I'd say is that the Electoral System probably should be modified, and that if it is done away with completely, the House of Representatives should be strengthened.



posted on Dec, 30 2005 @ 05:55 PM
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Quote:
I've just now had an idea which I need to play with a bit, but it intrigues me. IF we were going to institute the popular vote, we might put certain checks on it.

First of all, I think I'd like to see the Secretary of State made Head of State, the Secretary of Defense made Commander in Chief, and the President remain as Chief of Government, with all three being directly elected.

Second, the rest of the cabinet would still be nominated and confirmed, but I'd like to see the confirmation process moved from the Senate to the House. I think the locally elected reps have a lot more to say about who should be secretary of agriculture than the more widely elected senators do.

Third, I think the President should be President of the Senate (seeing as many of his duties are eliminated under the first proposal I've stated) and that the Vice President should become Speaker of the House (non-voting obviously).


I've gotten a bit off of just the Electoral System proper, but what I'm getting at is a few ideas on how to amend the way we run our elections so that the will of the people is better represented.

I am well aware that nothing I've put forward is perfect (it's not all my ideas either I should point out).
In a nut-shell though, what I'd say is that the Electoral System probably should be modified, and that if it is done away with completely, the House of Representatives should be strengthened.
End Quote
I like this idea, seems better than what we have at the moment.
The big thing that really bothers me about the present system is that the representatives can vote any way they see fit no matter what the popular vote is. I think that's just wrong.



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