tv Electoral Reform CSPAN October 17, 2017 12:01am-1:00am EDT
we will have a state that is young and vibrant and exciting and full of new ideas. i think that continuous involvement will make our city and state. >> voices from the state on c-span. >> a look at voting rights and redistricting. we hear from election chair, trouble potter. bob shrum, leslie cheryl, the former vice president of abc news. [applause] the managers are panelists,
former executive director leadership council and civil rights. his rent dozens of national campaigns with bipartisan majorities to strengthen and protect civil rights laws during the reagan and bush presidencies. his been very active since the in the front of my first 37 years. leslie is working on a nonpartisan initiative, the democracy project which focus on electoral reform. she firmly worked as a white house staffer and at the manhattan institution. peterson is the dean of fellow he was the 2014 republican candidate for california secretary of state. had he run in another state, he may have succeeded. trevor potter, former chairman on the election commission, former attorney for senator john mccain, and president george hw bush, i seem not at the same time.
is working in areas of campaign finance and elections, political communication government ethics. my co- moderator is the vice president for student group is a standalone student group were proud to be associated with them. he is a senior and he's going to kick it off with the first question which all of you can take a whack at. >> thank you for being here. we appreciated a student's hearing from you and hearing your opinions and thoughts on important issue i'm interested in the fact that we have tried to reform the electoral college for over 60 years. we proposed over 700 amendments of the have all failed. is this attainable? can we reform the college? >> who wants to go force.
>> first of all, i want to thank everybody involved. this is an extraordinary opportunity. i think were trying to figure out ways to address the extreme polarization in this country right now. the first question is related to that. there's no question there's a strong bipartisan majority that wants to do something about that. i was in law school the last time there's a significant effort to abolish other two presidents in favor of it, the problem is, are checks and balances and you filibuster in the senate on some that controversial. it takes two thirds of both houses and three quarters of the states. that's a virtual impossibility on any issue i can think of,
passing that kind of constitutional amendment. that does not mean that we can try to reform the electoral college the sense of how the electors vote. there many ways of looking at this. many of us would like the direct vote. if we can't get it we can do the national popular vote compact which 11 states have adopted. what they're saying is, they're passing a law in the states that if there is a candidate, there will be but has the most votes, they will commit their electors to the candidate with the most votes. >> whether or not they carry their state and once they get to
270 the state law would become active. there are other ways of doing this. a lot of us feel strongly that it's a great way to go. if you give 45% of a presidential candidate in the state you give 45% of the electors. the problem it would increase voter participation and partisanship, but it can be gained. for example, if california was proportional representation and whatever it might be but texas decides not to do and all of the votes in texas to a particular candidate, the democrats would be at a disadvantage. you can turn it around and it taxes does but california doesn't than the democrats in california are at a disadvantage. there are other ways so be discussed. we should continue to talk about
reform of how the electors come about. there has to be ways in addition to what i've talked about, that could work. >> i'm hopeful despite the efforts that have gone on successfully in the past. when you end up with the election where it doesn't meet perhaps the climate is right. perhaps people will be ready to make a change. i agree with ralph that a constitutional amendment is not feasible. all of the powers in the hands of the state. most states have turned over to the political party. i tried to call to get a list of who voted on my behalf and i got put on hold and transfer and sent back to the secretary of state. i said that's fine but you pick
these would just like to see the list of names of people who voted on by behalf. i cannot get the list. the republican party has a post when i asked who are they would not answer my question. it's a hall of mirrors but it doesn't have to be. if the voters are educated enough to see that they have succeeded all of their powers to the political parties on their behalf they can take the power back and pass some initiatives and reforms that will make the votes more representative. we can change our destiny, i'm very hopeful. >> i have to note that i can tell you these people are. these people are people that you are absolutely certain will be faithful about the way you want them to vote if you happen to
carry the state. >> i just did it as a test and i got put on hold a lot. >> i agree with ralph and also it's a virtual impossibility that you'd have a constitutional amendment to overturn the electoral college. think it's important to look at why we haven't. it's checks and balances which understands that we are the united states of america. there'll be parts of the system that are not democratic in the pierce sense of that term. there are filters by which smaller states and being part of this larger compact of the united states of america is seeking at least equal representation. i think there is something to be said about the proportional
division of book quotes. it have to be a compact along those terms. not supported related to what's known as the national popular vote in the sense you might have a state and its electors decide differently than the voters did even if it was different than the national vote total. if you're able to pass something then i can for see if you set the limits to say that you're going to get to 45 or 40 states in certain states had to sign on to you could have something that would be more represented. >> two things to know. one is that the electoral college bears no resemblance in its functioning to what the founders intended. they did not design what we are using. they had three elections, the
first two for george washington the second for john adams were worked as intended which is to say the leading citizens of every state selected by the legislature got together and decided who they thought ought to be president. it was the point was it was an outside group that would select the president. that stopped after the third election. we have political parties and from then on you had a different system which is now one in which the electors are selected depending on the popular vote in every state. it's important to remember that what we have was designed for a different system in a different country than where we are.
will agree that despite that everyone is now sufficiently invested in what we have, other reasons have risen to attain it. the small states feel they are overrepresented in the college compared to face the popular vote. the country is polarized on many issues one has become the electoral college versus the popular vote because there's nobody in the 20th century elected without winning the popular vote. we've had two of the 21st century, george w. bush and donald trump. one effect is republican support for the electoral college has risen because they like that
result when they see it as an attack on the legitimacy of the election. i agree with the view that says we won't get rid of the electoral college by constitutional amendment. that doesn't have a chance. i believe we can still fix the electoral college. those could be by constitutional amendment because i do not believe either would be controversial were seen as partisan. we have the problem referred to earlier which is called a faceless selector. they pledge a vote and one of them doesn't vote for ex. there's pressure this time on trump electors not to vote for trump. that is clearly ironically what the constitution says because it
goes back to the fact that electors are going to be wise citizen but it's not the way it works now. we would be outraged if it were to tip it from the outside. leave the electoral college there's no reason to have 50 people from california actually casting votes. you can simply say they have x number of votes, they should automatically be considered cast for the winner of the popular vote in that state. you don't have to have physical electors there who are a time bomb waiting to go off. the other that i think would be sufficiently supported as india proportional representation. you'd say the votes cast by state will be in proportion to
the citizens vote in that state. don't think it works for compact because what happens if some states join and some don't but if you have an amendment that said that you put all the states into play in california and texas get treated equally. seems to me that might be something that would solve an underlying political problem while still leaving smaller states with representation i have. >> ralph on some brief comments that have a quick follow up and then we will move on. >> one thing i want -underscore this were tight about someone who does not get the majority. the other point, we want to maximize citizen process is a
patient and we want candidates to campaign in all 50 states. as i was staying studying for this event i came across statistics. in the general election, donald trump and hillary clinton, 70% of their campaign appearances were in six states. 94% of their campaign appearances were 12 states. it's about 40 states work nor by the presidential candidates the general election. it's not something we want to continue. we want them out there and as many states as possible and getting as many citizens as possible involved in voting. >> it occurred to me when i thought about the electoral compact. 270 people sign up for what it
then, to make sure you don't have people fooling around with the voting processes what you have to have a uniform federal standard for voting for president? otherwise you could have an election like 2000 were everybody knows it's going to be close and there's a huge incentive for people to try to cheat. >> but that was it was supposed to standardize that. what you found cap i know this is a former secretary of state candidate, california was the last state not have a statewide voter rule. the implementation of it which was to get much more standardize on for her roles and that was not well enforced.
>> you would agree they would have to have something like that on a national level to make sure the votes were honestly cast? >> i would support it because it's right. >> for whatever the 12 states in play now the huge incentive to play with the numbers. i think our election system is not subject to fraud, and might be subject to incompetence as we found in florida 2000 think congress has worked since then to try to improve the voting systems. >> i would say that one of the positive things of looking at
this weather looking at reform as i know on presidential election cycles my vote doesn't really count. and the impact of that for many other people, i vote anyway because that's what i do know what happens in the down ticket races that are underneath that presidential ticket we don't yet know what that would be. what would it mean for democrats in texas to understand that your vote may actually have an impact and i are going in and have 15 other things to vote for. one of the things in california that is worth observing is that as we have a larger conversation about what it takes to get more people to turn out his understanding that in the landslide states, all the
landslide states have the lowest voter turnout. because people like me understood that quite frankly there is no purpose for casting a vote for president if i wasn't going to vote for the democratic nominee. >> the proportional idea of splitting those votes chat really changes that. >> it's quite interesting the hispanic turnout in texas is low, democrats don't put as much effort and as they might because they don't think they'll carry texas. that might change if every vote counted, people put more effort into it. speaking of every voter counts will go back to adam. >> i'm wondering if we need federal protections to encourage people to get them out to vote.
any prospect that a law could be passed on bipartisan? >> we have the voting rights laws passed in the 60s to ensure people can vote regardless of the race. that was the original issue in the 60s where states attempting to discourage minorities from voting. many people say that's what's happening in some southern states that have adopted these one-sided voter id measures were in texas for instance you have to have photo id to vote and then there's a list of what's acceptable photo id. the legislature decided that a concealed weapon carry permit was a permissible voter id but a photo id issued by the state of
texas to university students, was not. that is designed to make sure students vote at a lower rate of people who are remembers vote at a higher rate. that's a problem. that photo id per se but a system design to discourage some blocks of voters from voting. the answer to the questions, we have laws that should ensure that people are treated equally, we need to make sure we enforce those. >> what you think of that? do we need a stronger voting rights act? >> i was the first issue we worked with thanks to senator kennedy's leadership was strong
bipartisan support that was extended for 75 years of strong voting rights act would happen with respect to the shelby county case in 2013. chief justice john roberts who is at the department of justice basically gutted the section for section five which respected the department of justice jurisdiction over states who were covered because of past history of discrimination. there is legislation in the house and senate. i'm pretty sure that lisa murkowski from alaska i be the only republican in the senate in
a conservative republican from wisconsin the sponsors. we cannot pass legislation these days with two republican sponsors. so i'm not optimistic with respect to federal to return that supreme court decision. i hope it will happen someday but the political dynamics will need to change, not in the short term. >> i have an off-the-wall question i want test. there something called the ranked choice voting. could you explain what it is do you think it's a good idea? >> ranked choice voting is in about ten cities across the country affected about 2 million voters is getting traction with
respect to congressional races. essentially voters get to rank their candidates in order of their preference. let's just say therefore candidates the general election me your rate them, 1234. once someone of those for gets a majority of the first-place votes, that person is the winner. the majority vote. >> could. >> this is exactly how it works. what happens if there's not a majority, the person who finish last is eliminated. that person second-place votes or redistributed to the other three candidates.
if you have a majority winner at the end that palette, that's it. the process continues of eliminating the last place finisher and redistributing votes. that's how you get to someone has the majority of the votes against the electors. that encourages the candidates to be civil, to reach out not just your base, but you have to be civil because you want to be the second choice of those people who vote for another candidate. it encourages pragmatic elected officials people will reach out to an expanded base. it costs less there's a lot to be said about it. were positioning ourselves to vigorous debate. there will be support as more people find out about it.
it has a lot of merit. were looking forward to that. >> it's an interesting notion, it can be very confusing to the voter. >> so that is a concern, you don't want to discourage running. >> you're telling me under this system i would have to cast a vote for donald trump. >> no. but perhaps someone like bloomberg would've gotten in the race and more people would depict him as number two. the positive aspect is that you're voting for someone as opposed to against them. that's a positive way to look at it. is it too overwhelming for the voter? they did it in minnesota, i
would love to see a physical ballad and see how it looks but the notion that you're voting for someone so positive idea as opposed to voting against those are the pluses and minuses. i think it takes a lot of explaining. >> with these electoral form issues there's things where you can move forward because you believe it's the right thing to do. there's other things are doing to increase participation. what we have seen thus far as were not seen a great uptick in participation. talk about cities like oakland another set is to look at 20 or 30% participation and mayoral races. and how far down the ballot to go? i'm lucky if i know three of the five judicial appointments i have to vote on.
it has been confusing but i see it is something gaining momentum. we'll see other municipalities sign on to experiment with it. >> we have another question. >> the question i have on ranked choice voting i was looking forward to hearing the explanation, what you do in a race when there's a republican and democratic candidate that's it? you don't use it then i take it. >> you would not have to, one would get a majority. >> the more likely thing in that situation as it encourages others to run. i think bloomberg under this could've run.
>> this audience and panelists it addresses the spoiler issue. you can vote for who you want to vote and not feel by casting a vote for bloomberg or others you're having the possibility someone you really oppose being a beneficiary of your boat. this eliminates it. in the end there's one person because the majority of the vo vote. >> i think we have a question. >> our system is drowning in money, we see the super pacs spending members and this is a good or bad thing that so much money is in politics these days? . .
system in this country and ronald reagan ran and won under that system but that is gone now so instead we have reports members of congress are spending 40 percent of their working time fund-raising dialing for dollars trying to figure out how to read the campaign and what you preference the super pak with those court decisions including the supreme court citizens united we end up, step of having contribution we have a world with no contribution limits to the super pac which is therefore funded to litter the by a handful of people. 7880 percent of the money from the super pak came about from 100 americans
those are the major players always seems we need to look at how '02 diversify the funding to make those officeholders less reliant on the whims of a couple of rich people and instead find a way to finance those elections, much broader base to compete with the of millionaires. >> to girl from the point of where the money comes from after never having run for office before but the difference between individual contributions and at 1.during the campaign during the general election cycle to show about 80 percent of funding in come where my opponent came
from associations and facts those fund-raising groups. so of we were to have this cambers -- conversation it would be little different. and everybody probably knows to the penny but the exact average duration was for the bernie sanders campaign. twenty-seven dollars. nobody had qualms with bernie sanders reading tens of millions of dollars that they came in little snippets. so what i proposed was that even if we were just to report if the media was just strange to report they would prevent in san parentheses how much came from associations or pacs.
we would have better awareness where it was coming from. they are not aware of the third house. if you're from sacramento that accommodates the fund raising and campaign cash for any candidate and if you don't know where that money comes from then you don't have a sense who is pulling those levers politically. garett date as we can do from the transparency perspective that people live not care raising $100 million in $27 bounce were from the shadows the super pac. >>. >> so along the lines what
we are talking about. that is enormously consequential. and the chair would be the first not only to with knowledge so how do you get those dollars? there are some good proposals with the tax credits or matching funds now with the state level to facilitate the average person getting involved and the of bernie sanders campaign we could have the local and the state beaders doing that. >> family is important but what has changed is we now
have significant sums of money that is spent without disclosure. ever since of '70s the garden -- the guarantees it will be disclosed at the state and federal level. but we now have groups that are not disclosing donors because you're not political committees we're under the tax code. so they could step bid without knowing who was doing that spending. and to be paid for by better america. but the latest iteration is the facebook scandal. that they were selling advertisements and they have
announced that it isn't just advertising but also the me negative up groups that could use the facebook apparatus to come up with a protest over immigration. but now we're told there is no disclosure facebook doesn't tell us any of the details and don't show was the ads that were paid for the estimate is up to 70 million americans would see these ads. so the whole disclosure issue is important. >> i want to go over -- over one other issue. redistricting for gerrymandering seems to profoundly influence that representation.
there is a case challenging the gerrymandering what is the argument? is it a party-line vote? and if the court does not do anything it is likely more and more states tried to politicize redistricting as arnold schwarzenegger did here in california. >> we argue in wisconsin before the court that is the challenge of the over partisan gerrymandering. to make sure the other doesn't get a majority. it has been illegal for some time to hurt minorities over district lines but it has
not been considered unconstitutional to do so to hurt the lead the party some people insuring their party maintains control by choosing their voters. to have reform and non partisan redistricting coming from the state legislature and in this case the republican party did it but the democrats do exactly the same thing. this is the basic government right issued to elect representatives without having those districts hand-picked. this was a republican gerrymander to use computers to come up with the most republican m legislature they could think of and the result in 2012 that
49 percent of voters voted for republicans and the legislature elected was 60 percent republican and. they got the results through gerrymandering they did not get at the polls. and not having a republicrepublic an congressman in 20 years. so this is a problem that needs to be addressed by the supreme court i'm hopeful it is not a party line vote just as kennedy is the swing justice and he thinks over partisan gerrymandering is wrong but has said we are not a subjective when we look at it. so our goal is to say the numbers that i have described is an example you
can prove this is overly partisan. it will be argued october and decided next spring and i am hopeful to change the standard nationwide. >> there is definitely something i am supportive of. it was actually multi partisan they were of that applied to be of the commission were divided by republicans or democrats. there was equal representation for someone like myself as a republican than you would find elsewhere. so that process that is shown withstood many court challenges.
so that does provide a model. >>. >> clicking an electoral reform that just takes for more gerrymandering looking at that district model for it to continue to breed sold to eliminate the people dealing with the numbers you could sidestep and i know a few never completely get away from that that is one way. >> and to have complete control of the legislature. they still could not gerrymander this day.
>> we are looking for bargains -- bipartisanship but with the automatic the registration but don your case to acknowledge what you have done with their allies and also the conservative nancy pelosi is a liberal and chairman of the house freedom caucus and are in support of your position. >> we have a tradition so anybody has a question please raise your hand i cannot see very well.
>> looking at how elections are run if few do changes in the fantasy world without voter participation rate and how you get to 80 or 90%? how to address the bigger banks?. >> if you get rid it of winner-take-all california is the of perfect example those who never bothered to go to the polls. a lot of republicans did not bother if they thought they
had a shot there were 12 states where neither can it got 50 percent but they did get 100 percent of the electoral votes anytime anybody doesn't get 50 percent and everybody knows it is just not right. so i will lead venture to guess if they thought it mattered more. >> hoping that it would come as a question from the audience. with automatic voter registration going to the department of motor vehicles to be automatically registered. 50 million more americans would be registered.
ten states in the last two years as recently as august signed into law automatic voter registration. remember to it would be nice to get those tens of millions of americans that independent able to go in the primaries. in the house from the of nominees in the primaries. and how about a voter participation holiday? maybe talk every time there is a presidential election there is a federal holiday. if that happens to be within one week of the vote. that is the voter participation how did you make it easy? that is the
incentive to give people the time to make it easy to register to get that 80 percent over time. >> i have to push back a little. many of these lovers don't necessarily improve voter turnout. and at least my friend to is that the public policy institute of california looking at some of these measures that are meant to increase registration. whether some day -- same-day registration for extending the of period back from the election day from where the votes can be cast and looking at 3% seven these
bigger issues of what you talk about on the presidential election in years the winner-take-all states would have an impact to change voter turnout but i also think there is a bigger issue dictated by the millenials who were not registering for either party. also looking at that demographic turning out as lower-level and those together to me speak to the of bigger problem there is a growing sense that politics are becoming disconnected and win that begins to happen and the whole system is corrupt, that is a much
bigger impact on turnout even one of the larger turnouts we have seen 60 percent of registered voters in a lot of these making these changes losing side of the 40 or 50 percent a large group of eligible voters better looking to vote with their feet to. >> i work during today is to instill the importance of voting to young people while still in school. but i am thinking of the
election night when the results are rolling again and the results come in so loud and strong teh's that have any impact on voter turnout? we did have a lot of criticism for that because during that reagan and carter race was over the fur the polls were closed the actually called the election. so what they do now is put that in a decision room and nobody is supposed to know what modeling is showing. they will never call deal that should be for the last poll has closed in hawaii. that is the rule but as the tallies come in you can sense of momentum of.
pennsylvania or other states is day cliffhanger but there is very little you can do once though polls close bebel the longer call the election. 2000 was another issue and those deaths are now to be sequestered from the anchors. they have done things from the media's standpoint but it is very difficult to do. the exit polling is not supposed to be leaked but a lot of that information does get out. i donald the suppresses votes for people say why bother? but at least not calling it does help someone. >> another question from a
student?. >> i am a sophomore and a student here so the comment of the media got me thinking cities seek it got more media coverage but if people were more invested to see the impact of voter suppression on the day to day lives?. >> the media will only pay attention if it is allowed. to say they are fed up. let's get all the of free media donald trump has gotten. because they go to the new ways. i do not mean to disparage my fellow journalists but
cnn never made more money in the life of first time they were in the black. it has to be a grass-roots effort. it was very exciting that has to start with voters saying they have had a half. that people have to be angry. >> it does demand somebody on the inside of the system. looking back the redistricting commission was led by governor schwarzenegger. i just remember he said so many times on the campaign trail we are supposed to pick our politicians. so he could distill a complex ballot measure.
the way the commission was put together and how they were vetted but when governor schwarzenegger could distilled down to that simple populist message do we get to pick our politicians? they really did win the day. that is loud enough to get the attention and to change the way we do things. >> this is the ticket to success you cannot say the press should cover this more those of us in the field spend our days to get attention with nontraditional social media.
and if you try to push for change or campaign finance to have somebody like governor schwarzenegger but you have to have somebody like that to raise that up to level of visibility. >> the first shawl the last. >> 12 make the point of the bipartisanship that what you have heard in the last few minutes it has got to be in the state's it is important to have national leadership. to build the election reform movement to organize in the state's. >> the spirit of texas and
louisiana in response to the of hurricanes everybody working together that is what we need with respect to election reform movement. we can take on the challenge to understand that democracy. >> the president of one of of network subserved that donald trump may not be good for america but he is very very good for my bottom line. and to open in the of process getting more people to go to and not only democratic results but across-the-board that is the idea of democracy.
and i want to thank the students here at usc who is engaged and interested, stimulating, a terrific people live like to be a teacher here very much also to the staff does a fabulous job week after week. we will see you here next week to talk about the shrinking middle class. [applause] [inaudible conversations]