Things That Matter

The National Popular Vote May Be The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of The Electoral College

We may not be able to get rid of the electoral college without a constitutional amendment but a new proposal known as the National Popular Vote (NPV) is picking up a lot of steam. 

The United States is supposed to be a democracy where voters choose their leaders. In the past two decades, the will of the people has been subverted by the will of the electoral college. Imagine how the country might be different had Al Gore, an environmentalist, who won the popular vote against George W. Bush, who started the disastrous Iraq war, was elected instead? Imagine if Hillary Clinton, who hasn’t been accused of sexual assault two dozen times, and beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes had secured her seat in the oval? 

15 states and the District of Columbia have already adopted NPV.

“As signatories, each jurisdiction pledges to select Electoral College members who support the presidential candidate who won the most votes nationally, regardless of which candidate won the most votes in that particular jurisdiction,” according to the Atlantic

NPV is an interstate compact that requires a certain level of commitment from neighboring states. The pact will go into effect when participating states total 270 electoral college votes (the required number for the president-elect). The 16 regions that have made the commitment are already at 196 electoral college votes. 

NPV is also making waves in state politics on a lower level. It appear state officials are paving a way to pass the pact.

“The National Popular Vote bill has now passed a total of 40 state legislative chambers in 24 states. It has also passed at least one legislative chamber in 8 states possessing 75 electoral votes (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK).  It has been unanimously approved at the committee level in 2 states possessing 27 more electoral votes (GA, MO),” according to NationalPopularVote.com.

The plan would not totally eradicate the electoral college but it would mean that state leaders have made a commitment to effectively ignore it. Voters often express conflicting attitudes about candidates: they really love one candidate, but question if they can win the electoral college. Proponents of NPV would argue such compromises have no place in a democracy and NPV can help eliminate the conflict altogether. 

NPV could solve two major issues with the electoral college.

There are two major longstanding issues with the electoral college. The first is that our system is based on the premise of “one voter, one vote.” However, the system is skewed in favor of voters in a few small states. Electoral votes are determined by the number of representatives in Congress which is determined by the state population. 

The Washington Post notes that while small states receive a minimum of three electoral votes, larger states have limits on how many electoral votes they can receive. 

” Wyoming, with 586,107 residents — gets three electoral college votes… Consider that California, the most populous state, has 39,144,818 residents and 55 electoral college votes,” according to the paper. “That means that in the electoral college, each individual Wyoming vote weighs 3.6 times more than an individual Californian’s vote.” 

The second issue is the “winner take all” effect, where no matter how small a margin of victory a candidate has, they take all the electoral votes. This means our election outcomes are determined by a few swing states. While some argue that a popular vote will hurt the Republican party, such detractors might ask why Republicans are unable to curry enough favor to win over most American voters. 

The electoral college also disenfranchises about 4 million voters who live on territories.

“Roughly 4 million Americans live in the United States’ five permanently populated overseas territories — and they have no voice in selecting a president. That includes Puerto Rico, the United States’ most populous overseas territory, whose population is larger than that of 21 states and the District of Columbia,” according to the Washington Post. 

While residents of the territories can participate in primaries (Marco Rubio won the Puerto Rican GOP primary by a landslide in 2016, for example), they have no electoral votes with the exception of Washington, D.C. 

“More and more, the United States is likely to elect presidents who haven’t won the popular vote — awarding the presidency to a party that has no popular mandate. The compromises behind the U.S. election system are failing at their goals,” Katy Collin wrote for the Washington Post

One of the original intentions of the electoral college may have been to give smaller states a voice, but it has essentially assured that smaller states are the only voices that matter when it comes to picking our most important leader. 

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Georgia Delivers Control Of Congress To Democrats Thanks To This Incredible Coalition Of Voters

Things That Matter

Georgia Delivers Control Of Congress To Democrats Thanks To This Incredible Coalition Of Voters

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

In what seems like the never ending 2020 election cycle, we can finally say that the votes are in. And the results out of Georgia are truly worth celebrating as a diverse coalition of Georgian voters helped deliver both U.S. senate seats to Democrats.

Thanks to a well organized voting apparatus, a record-breaking number of voters hit the polls and helped elect the state’s first Black senator along with the youngest senator in nearly sixty years.

The results out of Georgia help put the Senate under control of the Democrats, handing President-Elect Joe Biden a major tool in helping to implement a progressive agenda once he is inaugurated on January 20.

Georgia elects two Democrats to the U.S. Senate with history-making votes.

Democrats have swept both seats in Georgia’s critical runoff elections, giving the party control of the Senate and removing a major roadblock for President-elect Joe Biden.

Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican David Perdue in Tuesday’s election, while networks had earlier called Georgia’s other race for Democrat Raphael Warnock over GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

The results are a rebuke of President Donald Trump, whose supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to try to stop Congress from counting the Electoral College results.

The Senate will now be split 50-50, but Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will be able to cast tie-breaking votes, putting Democrats in charge of the legislative agenda, committee chairmanships and Congress’ confirmation and investigative powers.

Black and Latino voters deserve recognition for their hard work in making this possible.

Senator-Elect Warnock is the pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s former church in Atlanta. He will be the first Black senator from Georgia and only the 11th Black senator in American history. He won, in part, thanks to astronomical Black turnout.

Many are praising the work of Stacey Abrams and groups like Mijente, who helped register a record-breaking number of new voters. In fact, Mijente helped knock on the doors or call every single Latino resident in the state of Georgia to help get out the vote.

Meanwhile, Stacey Abrams – who had already done so much work in helping turn Georgia blue for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in November – continued her trailblazing mission in the state. Her organization, Fair Fight 2020, helped register more voters than ever before and helped make sure they understood their rights and responsibilities as a voter.

Joe Biden will now have full control of government.

Biden will now enter the White House on Jan. 20 with his party in control of both chambers of Congress, allowing him to confirm his Cabinet and judicial nominees and giving him and a chance to advance his legislative agenda, which would have gone nowhere as long as Sen. Mitch McConnell remained in charge.

Biden and Senate Democratic leaders agree their top priority will be a new round of Covid-19 relief, especially after the president-elect promised Georgia voters this week that $2,000 stimulus checks would “go out the door immediately” if Democrats won the Senate.

Many in the community are hopeful that with control of both the Senate and House, Biden will be able to push through comprehensive immigration reform and undo many of the cruel and inhumane policies put into place by the Trump administration. However, given the legislative filibuster remains in place (requiring a two thirds majority), many question just how much will be accomplished.

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The Georgia Senate Races Are Two Of The Most Important In Modern History And Here’s Why

Things That Matter

The Georgia Senate Races Are Two Of The Most Important In Modern History And Here’s Why

ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images

With a runoff election just weeks away that could tip the balance of the U.S. Senate, many people across the United States have Georgia on their minds. And it’s obvious why: the stakes are high.

What happens in January’s dual senate runoff in the state, will directly impact how much of a progressive agenda a President Joe Biden can get through Congress.

Adding to the important dynamic, is the pivotal part that voters of color, in particular Black women, are playing in the races. From grassroots organizing to being members of a key voting bloc that helped lift Democrats to the White House in November, Black, Brow, and Native voters are working hard to turn out the vote.

Georgia’s two senate run off races are two of the most important races in modern history.

Although Georgia went blue for the first time since 1992 by voting for Joe Biden for president, the fight for Georgia is far from over.

This January, there will be two critical U.S. Senate runoff elections, one between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, and the other between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The elections will not only decide the state’s representation, but also which political party will have a majority in the U.S. Senate, which could dramatically alter Biden’s upcoming administration.

If we want to see criminal justice reform, compassionate immigration policy, a permanent DACA program, a fairer economy that works for all Americans, and a common sense, science-based approach to the Coroanvirus pandemic – among so much else – what happens in Georgia is critical.

Here’s why the race is so critical for a Democratic agenda to have any chance of becoming reality.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

As it stands, following the 2020 election, the new U.S. Senate will consist of 46 Democrats, two independents who caucus with Democrats, 50 Republicans, and then whoever wins these two races in Georgia.

If Democrats win both races, they will have a majority in the Senate (the Senate tie breaker is the Vice President, or in this case, Kamala Harris), giving Biden increased power to pass legislation and move forward on his policy agenda. Otherwise, if even one of the Republican candidates wins in January, the GOP will have majority control.

As the Times reports: “With judicial nominees, a stimulus deal, infrastructure and health care measures, and tax and spending policies all on the line, the Senate races in Georgia are likely to take on an intensity that mirrors the presidential race that just ended.”

What are the issues candidates are talking about?

Although much is said about the elections impact on the Senate and Biden’s presidency, the candidates are also talking issues that affect Georgians.

Joe Ossoff is highlighting Sen. Perdue’s highly questionable stock trades in which the senator seemed to financially benefit from the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the Daily Beast recently reported that Perdue invested in a company called BWX Technologies that manufactured Navy submarine parts right around the time he became head of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower. Ossoff has also hammered hard on Perdue’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and the larger issue of the need for financial relief for those made newly unemployed by the pandemic.

As for Loeffler, reportedly the wealthiest person in the Senate, she too has made some questionable trades. According to published reports, Loeffler and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, who is the CEO of a company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, reportedly sold $20 million in shares after she attended a closed-door Senate briefing on the coronavirus in January, while also making investments in companies that may benefit from the pandemic.

Do the two Democrats have a chance to flip the Senate?

Credit: ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been 24 years since Georgia last sent a Democrat to the Senate, so it would appear that it’s a steep slope in achieving a double win come January. But notably, the last time the state voted for a Democratic candidate for president was in Bill Clinton’s first race in 1992—and Joe Biden changed that this year.

Can Ossoff and Warnock do the same? Recent polls show that both races are essentially even, with Warnock one point ahead of Loeffler, 49 to 48%, and Ossoff and Perdue tied at 49%. But as we know from the recent presidential elections, polls have become notoriously unreliable.

Black and Brown voters – especially women – will likely hold the key to Democratic wins.

Georgia owes it’s history-making switch to blue in part to a large and well-organized coalition of Black voters, especially Black women. Black voters were essential to Biden’s win: of the 160 million people who voted in the recent presidential election, exit polls show nearly 50 percent of registered Black women voters cast ballots. At least 90 percent voted for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-president elect Kamala Harris. 

The shift was thanks, in part, to the tireless work of Black organizers—women like Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight, LaTosha Brown and Black Voters Matter, and Nse Ufot and The New Georgia Project—who registered, educated, and mobilized voters.

If you’re looking for ways to help – even from outside of Georgia – there’s so much you can do.

Even if you don’t live in Georgia, you can still assist from afar. One way is to phone or text bank for the Democratic challengers. Find a handful of upcoming events here and here.

Besides donating straight to the candidates’ campaigns, there are a number of organizations working to get out and protect the vote this January.

  • Fair Fight is a national voting rights organization that promotes fair elections and encourages voter participation and education.
  • The New Georgia Project has both a donation page and an Amazon wish list for its volunteers.
  • Black Voters Matter works to expand Black voter engagement through voter registration, policy advocacy, and more.

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