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Republicans Eye the California Electoral Cookie Jar

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Posted on Aug 13, 2007

Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter warns of a Republican plot to deliver some of California’s electoral votes to the GOP nominee—even if he loses the state. The scheme, which depends on California’s much-abused and confusing proposition system, would award the Golden State’s electoral votes by congressional district.


Instead of laboring in vain to turn California Red, a clever lawyer for the state Republican Party thought of a gimmicky shortcut. Thomas Hiltachk, who specializes in ballot referenda that try to fool people in the titles and fine print, is sponsoring a ballot initiative for the June 3, 2008, California primary (which now falls four months after the state’s presidential primary). The Presidential Election Reform Act would award the state’s electoral votes based on who wins each congressional district. Had this idea been in effect in 2004, Bush would have won 22 electoral votes from California, about the same number awarded the winners of states like Illinois or Pennsylvania. In practical terms, adopting the initiative would mean that the Democratic candidate would likely have to win both Ohio and Florida in 2008 (instead of one or the other) to be elected.

Hiltachk, who is lying low for now, is a former campaign lawyer for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor’s office says Schwarzenegger has no position on the initiative and “had absolutely nothing to do with its development.” But whichever way Schwarzenegger goes, several GOP presidential candidates and their financial backers have already offered to help boost the plan. Just interested in good government? They’ve shown a curious lack of interest in backing the same idea in Red States.

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By Frank, August 16, 2007 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

farmertx, the electoral college insures that even people who live in smaller states have some same in the election. Without the Electoral college, the populations of five states or less could determine the president, even if 100% of the residents of all the other 45 states opposed the candidate. That is NOT representative government, and could lead to candidates promising to pander to certain states if elected president.

The Electoral college provides a fair and intelligent balance between mob rule (one person one vote) and States Rights to have their citizens voice represented in an election. It insures that there must be a distribution of popular support to elect a president.  It was a system devised by the Founding Fathers and authors of our Constitution, men far wiser that you or I , or anyone present on this message board.  You owe it to yourself to learn more about the very sound reasons they had to establish this system.

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By Douglas Chalmers, August 14, 2007 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment


Armies can’t protect people from themselves - or each other, if you will. That is known as martial law which suspends democracy entirely if not permanently. That is more or less where Pakistan is now. You can’t bring “democracy” by following that path. Ask Benazir Bhutto - the previous military dictatorship murdered her father! What you are asking for is a Republican GOP military dictatorship. So clever, uhh.

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By CHARLIE KASNICK, August 14, 2007 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment
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By farmertx, August 14, 2007 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

#94643 by Todd on 8/13 at 5:04 pm
(Unregistered commenter)

Todd, are the Democrat’s expected to sit by and let the Republican’s get away with all the dirty tricks?
Granted that in an ideal world, there would be no dirty tricks.
That world is not to be found on this planet as of yet.
At it’s inception the Electoral College gave voice to those in the Western States, where the population was much smaller than back East.
That is no longer the case.
The Electoral College only applies to the race for the Presidency. In all other races, one man/one vote prevails.
Yet, in the most important position, the outcome is determined by the population of a State; the more populous States having a greater say in who becomes President. That ain’t right.

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By MaryinNC, August 14, 2007 at 11:51 am Link to this comment
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California sets the pace for the rest of the country. So if the Cal repubs want to apportion the electoral college votes, then let’s have the debate and finally get rid of that thing.

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By One Little Victory, August 14, 2007 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

The Electoral College has outlived its usefulness, if it ever had any.

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By kevin99999, August 13, 2007 at 10:31 pm Link to this comment
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The GOP is a party of scam artists and criminals. They will do any sordid deeds to grab power.

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By Enemy of State, August 13, 2007 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment

RAE- right on! Unfortunately we have a sizable population who is either religiously motivated (evangelicals), teaming up with another chunk who are afraid we might take their guns away. After those solid red blocks, not many more votes need go their way.

  Doing away with the archaic electoral college althogether would be a good thing. The Republicans only want to do it where it will help them. Not much different from their opinions/actions on voting rights (they want all people likely to be on their side to vote, and none that aren’t).

  We currently have the situation where some voters votes are very important, and some hardly matter. That is most obvious in the presidental election, where soldly (red or blue) states are largely ignored, and swing states, where every voter matters.

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By farmertx, August 13, 2007 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

#94683 by vet240 on 8/13 at 5:28 pm
(79 comments total)

Texans should be embarrassed and angry that a National political party manipulated their states system to gain control of their Federal Representation.

Vet, I ain’t embarrassed, but I am angry as hell about the illegal re-districting that Tommy Delay shoved through by spreading lots of money around the State House.
Cyrena won’t agree with me, rightfully so, but things were better here in Texas ‘fore the Yankee’s moved South. Back then a Republican was a rare critter.
Lots of folks talk about the Shrub being a Texan. Just bear in mind that he has lied before.

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By vet240, August 13, 2007 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

The time has come for the American people to act.

The method used to select our President should be changed to a count of each persons vote. No more Electoral College. Further I believe that Federal funds should be distributed on the basis of population, not on the basis of some Senator who can leverage his position to obtain an unfair share of the Federal pie.

Certainly, no more rigging outcomes as the Republicans did in Texas.

Texans should be embarrassed and angry that a National political party manipulated their states system to gain control of their Federal Representation.

Further, the foolhardy Republicans should realize that any game they start might come back to haunt them in the future.

Californians, don’t kid yourself that this issue is a State issue. It’s a Federal issue that is going to be pressed on your State not for State good but for the good of the National Republican party.

Need I remind Californians that the Republican party has ignored your concerns for the last 7 years over global warming and that you in California as a result of that have taken the lead in Global warming issues and other environmental concerns at the state level.

Don’t let your local and State Republican party or for that matter, any party remove your right to vote directly for the Presidential candidate of your choice.

If you are a Republican in a Democratic district, do you want your losing Republican vote to be counted as a winning vote for a Democratic President? Of course the opposite applies too.

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By farmertx, August 13, 2007 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

Just one more reason to do away with the Electoral College completely.
One Man/One vote
Regardless of where he lives.
Had the Electoral College been done away with prior to 2000, Al Gore would have been President.
Regardless of what we think of Al, he wouldn’t have tried to do away with the Constitution, we wouldn’t be in Iraq and Exxon Mobil likely would be making a reasonable profit with gas selling at $2 a gallon.

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By TJ, August 13, 2007 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment
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Comment 2:  As I understand it, what the Republicans want is a system where they keep theirs (all or nothing in “red” states) but they want Democrats to share theirs (in “blue” states).  Typical.

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By TJ, August 13, 2007 at 4:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If allocation of electoral votes is so good for California, why wouldn’t it be good for the rest of the states.  In fact, so long as we are allocating votes based on the percentages of the popular vote, why not just eliminate the middle man electoral college system in its entirety and just rely on the popular vote.  What’s good for the goose….

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By Todd, August 13, 2007 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remember, better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.  Before you weigh in on a matter, please at least have some idea that is based in history and fact.

As for a true democracy, the reason the founding fathers went against that is not outdated, it is the fear of Mob Rule.  A Republic, which is what we are, specifically guards the rights of the minority from the majority.  If there is anyone on this site who would give that up, then you really should move to a more hospitable country, like North Korea.

As for the article, at least read the whole thing, not just the anti-Republican paragraph.  You will see that both parties are trying to do the same thing in different areas.  Is this website a news site, or is its existence just to inflame the radical left “mob”?

Excerpted from the whole article…..
“The monkey business underway this month in North Carolina is just as egregious…Democrats, who usually lose the state in presidential contests but control the legislature and the governor’s mansion, make no secret of their desire to win partisan advantage by going to the congressional-district formula.”

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By Scott, August 13, 2007 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

In Canada we have a minority government - Conservative, with some 36% of the popular vote last election.

We’re always reminded that we could have an election at any time if a non-confidence motion passed but we’re also regularly told that ‘we’ don’t want an election.

Personally, I’d be more than happy to weigh in on issues, even on a quarterly basis. I have no problem with electing representatives to speak to issues but at the same time I don’t want to leave everything entirely up to them with regards to decisions about them.

It goes without saying that voters in a more hands-on referenda-based democracy such as I’d like to see should have to qualify for voter status by passing a routine issue comprehension exam. There’s little point in asking idiots for their opinions and a real danger if we leave decisions up to them.

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By Douglas Chalmers, August 13, 2007 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

#94516 by RAE on 8/13 at 8:15 am: “...What I find perplexing is why, after all we now know about the incompetence of GW Bush, his administration and the Republican party, the people in all these states are still “red.”...”

As some states like California have a Republican governor but Democrat senators or congress people, its an interesting contrast. Kind of differing tastes or priorities at different levels of government. How can you do that?

Watch the Australian federal election later this year. They have a Democrats equivalent (Labor party) in ALL states and a Republican equivalent (Liberal-National party coalition) in BOTH the senate and their parliament (congress). That is expected to change and for them to have the Democrats equivalent (Labor party) in BOTH state (ALL states) and federal levels and possibly including the senate.

In other words, they most prbably will have a total one-party state - in a democracy! They already have a one-party state as it is at a federal level as it was until recently with the USA. Now, that is power - but is it for the people? So far, with the Republican equivalent (Liberal-National party coalition), not really.

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By cheguevara1970, August 13, 2007 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

Republicans want the Electoral College to stay in place-although it is archaic & its original purposes are more than outdated-in the name of “Federalism”.  When told of the “ONE MAN, ONE VOTE” method, a true democratic principle to elect leaders, Republicans shiver b/c they know that they would never win an election in this country based on such democratic method.

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By john, August 13, 2007 at 11:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Will Texas be disbursing its EC votes this way? Will Florida or Georgia do so? Hell no!

This is something that should only be implemented if it is done in ALL 50 states. This idea is a perversion of democracy and it will just be one more way for the Republicans to win ...without a majority of the votes.

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By Joe Sheahan, August 13, 2007 at 11:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They attempted to pass a bill like this in 2004 in Colorado, and all the Democrats and Liberals where in favor of it, because Colorado usually goes to the red.  This would be a good Idea but it should be set up more like our congressional districts but also reevaluated to make fair.  Your vote might actually make a difference in this system

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By proletariat, August 13, 2007 at 11:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think California’s on the right trade. Why should a party, any party, who may have won by as little a 1% of the vote get all the state’s electoral votes. That system is about as unfair and undemocratic as it gets.

Personally I think we should keep it state based but split electoral votes proportionally. If Dems get 50 of the state popular vote they get that proportion of EC. If Nader get 10% of the popular vote he gets 10% of the EC.

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By Scott, August 13, 2007 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

Is there a better way to make every vote count?.

Yes, by making them count for more in one place than they do in another.

Democracy, its such a waste of time its a joke, and to those who inevitably point out the alternative to democracy is worse… I say this is the alternative.

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By weather, August 13, 2007 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Use the absentee ballot and evoke the paper trail.

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By One Little Victory, August 13, 2007 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

I am not adverse to this method, but all 50 states need to do business the same way.

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By RAE, August 13, 2007 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

What I find perplexing is why, after all we now know about the incompetence of GW Bush, his administration and the Republican party, the people in all these states are still “red.”

Oh, the Democrats, I admit, have a lot of the same tar and feathers on them - I guess it comes with the job - but, goodness folks, isn’t it about time you started looking beyond the labels and party philosophies and start to choose leaders who have some idea of how to cooperate with the rest of the world so that EVERYONE WINS? Isn’t it about time the self-appointed “leaders of the free world” got just a “little bit smart”?

How many more decades do we have stand and watch as TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS are completely WASTED, MILLIONS of LIVES are completely WASTED, THOUSANDS of OPPORTUNITIES to help others help themselves GO DOWN THE DRAIN, as we gear up to carpet bomb another country? THIS IS RIDICULOUS.

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By john in bear, August 13, 2007 at 9:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Clearly a Rupublican initiative;  Let’s keep counting the votes until we get the outcome we were looking for.  This is just a new spin on the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections.

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By diogenes, August 13, 2007 at 9:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A: Okay, so does anything need to be done about this?

B: Uh, why does anything need to be done at all?

A: I know it’s the antithesis of our society, but, is it time for some introspection?  Do we need to think of things differently?

B: Nah!  I’m making 80k+ and no end in sight, so screw the rest.  I’m gonna get mine while I can and bug the hell out of here!

A: California?, jeez, it’s a million miles away, why the hell should I care?

B: You know, I’m so busy making money and deals here, I just don’t have time to read the news and besides; it so depressing. 

A: The Army is all volunteer, they can deal with this shit, besides, have you heard of the signing bonuses?  $45,000 for just joining up!  Man, that could jump start my life!  I don’t have much education so this could get me going. 

B: Yeah, well, the draft is coming soon to a town near you.  Go fer it!

A: So, we don’t need to worry this shit?

B: No, just go on with your life as usual, it’ll be okay, trust me.

A: Thanks man, I feel better already.

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By Really?, August 13, 2007 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Phasing out the obvious weaknesses of the electoral college are against your liberal values?

hilarious, is that what you were saying when Gore “won” the election 7 years ago? consistency of thought would do you well.

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By Douglas Chalmers, August 13, 2007 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

Uhh, in any other ‘well-known’ country, red is for Communism - a totalitarian state. Pity Arnie’s favorite color is stormtrooper black!

Oh, well, CNN did say that ” Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top of their 2008 ticket .....may be too polarizing for much of the country .....and give Republicans who otherwise might stay home on Election Day a reason to vote… “Republicans are upset with their candidates ....but she will make up for that by essentially scaring folks to the polls…..”

In national surveys, Clinton’s lead over chief rival Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has widened ......“There is a phenomena with Hillary, because she is the front-runner and because she’s been battling Republicans for so long, her unfavorability (rating) looks higher than what they will eventually be after the nomination and through the general election…...”

“She’s got a tough road to hoe because people have formed opinions of her,” said Rep. Tim Mahoney, a freshman Democrat from Florida. “But I can and will tell you that when I see Hillary get out there with the public, she changes people’s minds. She’s not the stereotype that people know her to be…...”

Carrie Webster, “But the fact that so many prominent Democratic males are getting behind her at this early point makes me a little more confident that she could overcome some of the more obvious
hurdles,” she said.

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