tv Electoral College Debate at Steamboat Freedom Conference CSPAN September 6, 2019 10:30am-11:32am EDT
>> what is your vision in 2020? studentcam 2020 is asking students what issue do you most want to see the presidential candidates addressed during the campaign. studentcam is c-span's nationwide video documentary competition for middle and high school students, with $100,000 in total cash prizes prize is e including a $5000 grand prize. students are asked to produce a short video documentary, include c-span video and reflect differing points of view. information to help you get started is on our website, studentcam.org. >> next from oklahoma rated talk show hosts england debates democratic strategist ted trimpa on electing the u.s. president, the electoral college versus the popular vote. held at the annual steamboat conference in colorado, this is
about one hour ♪ ♪ ♪ >> good morning. talk about the electoral college and the national popular vote interstate compact. i'm hadley heath manning, thank you for the introduction. i'm proud to be a senior fellow, and that should explain my shoes. these are the tony blankley shoes that are not just, to spoil anything for tonight but there typically awarded to new blankley fellows. i enjoy today with a couple of distinguished panelists here i've got ted trimpa immediately to my left, although maybe a lot further to my left, we'll find out. >> probably. >> he is the principal and ceo of trimpa group which is progressive public policy advocacy and strategy firm. the atlantic has called in colorado's answer to karl rove i found another interesting tidbit from "the denver post", it's is one of the most important lives
in colorado politics you've probably never heard of. well, that was in "the denver post" ten years ago. i imagine more people have heard of you now. previous to his work at trimpa group he had a a decade of government relations and political consulting expense using to government relations group at brownstein. got a start in politics working for you senator nancy casaubon. he has a j. d. and a ba from university of denver so join in welcoming ted trimpa. [applause] and we also are joined today by trent england whose executive vice president of the clomid council of public affairs. he's also the brown distinguished fellow at that organization and prior to working in oklahoma city at the oklahoma council of public affairs he was executive vice president at freedom foundation in washington state, and ceo there for some time. once upon a time he worked as a
legal analyst for the heritage foundation which is an organization some of you may have heard of, and among other issues very focused on constitutional issues and help develop the guide to the constitution. his work has been published in the "wall street journal," the christian science monitor, and many other publications. he has a law degree from the george mason university and is bn government from claremont mckenna. so join me in welcoming trent. [applause] i thought we would start by talking about the electoral college and the national popular vote interstate compact which colorado joined this year and you guys correct me if i'm wrong, on the statistics but ugly colorado became the 12th state to join interstate compact, is that correct? >> sixteen jurisdictions. >> even further ahead. i read there were now 181 electoral votes? >> 196. >> my numbers are dated. but when it 96 electoral college
votes are possibly joining this interstate compact that only takes effect when 270 electoral votes from the various states have agreed to this interstate compact, which essentially says that the elect doors in the states would not follow the traditional electoral college system, but would instead cast their ballots for the winner of the national popular vote. i thought we would start to talk about that compact and what it means. we have a couple of minutes for each debater to offer his opening remarks and in your opening remarks if you could touch on what the electoral college is and what this interstate compact is, and whether or not this interstate compact would be effective abolition of the electoral college or not or sort of what the ultimate goal of the interstate compact is. maybe we will start with the
ted. >> first off i want to say thank you to jennifer and rick and to the board of the steeple institute for environment back up again. i probably am the leftist person in the room, and i'm proud of that, , but i do want to say tht it's really important for people in my world to be at events like this and actually think we should have more people here. because i don't think this country is separated as it is and it out to be in beatty today. i can see some anecdotal conversations with you. so thank you very much for having me here. always glad to be here. [applause] and you did a a great job explaining what the compact is. a lot of people pass it up. the interstate compact is an interstate compact, a contract, that state in her into by passing legislation and as hadley says, it says that you will, compacting state, agree that once there are two under 70
electors and a compact your electors whoever wins all 50 states and district of columbia popular vote for president. now, there are two my categories of reasons why. we believe this is the appropriate approach and then the third thing i'll talk about is actually electoral college and us would not the electoral college were talking about the winner-take-all rule. so first off, the records of the states in elections it ignored today. three-quarters, 96% of the campaign visits were done in 12 states in 2016, and this means that all of those votes, none of those votes mattered. they don't count in a presidential election. so why would anybody care about that? because it skews policymaking. think about in addition to the fact those votes don't count, you think about medicare part d, the largest increase in entitlement spending in the history since the creation of
entitlement spending, why was it done? it was done by a republican president, republican congress, and guess what, it was to hold the state of florida. now, democrats are just as guilty. the largest sba loan during president obama's term went to come you'll love this, a ricotta cheese factory. where? in ohio. and jeff twice as many disaster declarations and val grande states versus non-battleground states. you have more of the grants that come from the federal government to battleground states rather than non-battleground state. it's time we believe every vote in every state should count the same. >> thank you. trent. >> so thank you so much to steeple for putting this on. i completely agree. one of the reason we talked about this before we came out was that i have spent so much time work on the electoral college and studying this, when back into 1990s but really over the last ten years.
it's partly because it's an issue where good people disagree and that are democrats who agree with me, that republicans who agree with ted. i think that makes it frankly a more edifying issue to work on. but i do think it's important to go back to the beginning of the electoral college and also at the beginning of the national popular vote movement, understand what these institutions about, and if you go back to the founding the bait at the constitutional convention, you actually find a debate like this, a little bit. which is, although it's james madison debating himself. he stands up and says acyclic this turkey says i'd love to the national popular vote for president. it's simple. it has undoubted appeal. a simple way to do it. there was no consumer some people said they couldn't coulo because they rode horses and it was tough to get information of the that was not a concern they
could aggravate -- aggregate the boat. it could just take longer the same concern i have today, which is madison says the problem with the national popular vote is inevitably the power would wind up permanently vested with the big population centers. madison says as much as in three i might like that, one of the reasons i love the founders, you find us all through the constitutional debates, in theory this might look good but what we care about is whether it works in practice. madison said, in practice it would not work. it would be a disaster because it would entrench control of the executive branch in the biggest population centers and leave everybody else out. and so we have an electoral college. we'll get into some of these things and also the vice ancillary benefits were i think maybe bring madison back today he would say this works even better than i i thought it woud but we'll get to that. national popular vote was interstate compact was greeted by people who want to abolish
the electoral college. i know it's a boy by some people who don't want to punish the electoral college or that is sorely part of the page for npv because it leads the electoral college in place, manipulates it to get a result that goes against what madison was trying to do in the constitution. it was great by people so we want to get rid of the electoral college but amending the constitution is too hard so let's come up with an interstate compact the changes of states award their electors so we can get what we want. the founder of national popular vote, a very smart computer scientist in california who also invented scratch off lottery tickets, since lots of winnings to invest in this effort, john bragg to know times, this isn't in run around the electoral college as a state-by-state way to elect the president. the electoral college keeps control of elections at the state level and it prevents big population centers from
basically controlling executive branch will listen to everybody else. and for those reasons i think should keep the electoral college as it is, no election system is perfect but it suits the time. >> you want to respond? >> the simple fact of what trent is ignoring is that this is about the electoral college. this is not the winner-take-all rule. the winner-take-all rule says webb wins the most popular votes within that state, all those electors go to the presidential candidate for that particular state. the winner-take-all rule was never debated in the constitution convention. it not part of what the discussion was, and it is never mentioned in the federalist papers. what we really should be talking about is how the winner-take-all rule skews public policymaking and output would be better for the united states to get rid of the winner-take-all rule and moved to a national popular vote. the other thing i want to mention is, it's great to talk about what was mentioned at the
constitutional convention, ideas about different ways of voting. but in the end they couldn't agree, and what was written in the constitution is really simple language for each state shall appoint in a manner such as the legislature a number of electors. this language, we're all strict constitutionalists here, this language has been held by two different supreme court's that say states had the exclusive and plenary authority to determine how their electors are chosen. and this is exactly what the founding fathers intended, with that states could do it the way to wanted. the way the winner-take-all rule came about was that if you were state that didn't winner-take-all rule, you are giving up half of your electors by 1880 over half, action by 1880 most of the states did winner-take-all rule. this winter the supreme court saying it fair to other states and the supreme court said because of the plain language in the constitution, tough. if it disadvantages you, it
disadvantages you. >> i have to confess that i took and uber or this morning from a different part of the boat springs. he asked me a question about what we're having a discussion about the history of electoral college him my uber driver, i told him i said i moderate a debate on the electoral college this one. he said give me the racist institution that is an artifact of our history as a slave owning country likes saltwater to ask if you would respond to that, because understandably, people who oppose the national popular vote are concerned about urban centers but i guess there's a per second that the electoral college waited our presidential system in favor of less pipe was states that were more rural and perhaps slaveowning. what do you say to that? >> this has been come many people watching congress on alexandria mac comments yesterday i think saying that
same thing, and it is simply -- alexandria ocasio-cortez that while it is true that raised a slave is the original sin of our country think we should be serious about that, it is not true that it was the primary motivating factor behind the connecticut compromise which it should congress can which is what electoral college -- think about the electoral college actually for the pop of congress. think about the map behind. congress, selected by the states, exist just to elect the president and goes away. so the application is really not so much about the electoral college, it's really about the compromise that could congress and u.s. senate. the fact is there were all states in the south, small states in the north that i think it's just a strange argument that people make where the egg door the real political dynamics which is jamaican, new york and virginia with a big states. one in the north, one in the
south they both had slave it ae time of the founding but new york was in the process abolish it, thanks thanks to people like alexander hamilton. it was not the reason why we have the electoral college. and, frankly, if you go forward in history and maybe we will come to this later, if you look at the post-civil war elections, the electoral college actually prevented racist vote suppression from stealing the white house, in at least one election. and so we've seen, whatever the founders intentions were, we have seen the electoral college protect minority interest, specifically in the case freed slaves and ancestors in the 1870s and 1880s, protect them. and so i think we should look at that history also. >> my response to that would be, i think what alexandria ocasio-cortez is talked about, and as a devout liberal i'm not in the camp, i think she's a danger to the party.
i just want to be on record saying that. [applause] >> but she's so much fun. >> the one great thing about her having the kind of attention she's been having his granola going to see and to closing on mail pieces. [laughing] so i think her, about being racist and with the cab caverns target is probably more about when you're trying to do the the constitutional amendment in the 70s to get rid of the electoral college, , and equipmt that was made from some senators in new york with some senators in the south. and it was in part around race in protecting certain power centers, back when new york was a battleground state. there's a scene that keeps running through trans-comets and that is big states or to control, big cities over to control the grid to think about what they can't you look like at the time of the founding fathers there were talking 13 states. we have two that big ones do you have 11 other states.
today we may have ten big states, 11 big states. they only represent, let's take 11 biggest dates represent like what, 112 -- i'm trying to remember the number. the other 3838 states can basically the 11 and the 30th represent the same number of people. with big cities if you take the top ten cities is 15% -- top 10%, 8% of the population in the country and the top 50 cities is only 12% of the population. this idea that big cities or big stick to go to control the election, the arithmetic just doesn't support it. the other thing get to think about is that assumes that big cities are always going to vote all democratic and that big states are going to vote, which is not the case. historically when to take a look at the large estates, the
highest percentage of democrats receive overall when you average about is 63%. that is the same for the remainder 38 states for republicans. what that says to us is that this country really is hurting much 50-50. when you take a look at -- another example. one-sixth people live in urban centers in the united states. one-sixth live in rural areas. the same kind of percentage flip applies for the one-sixth. the rest of the country lives in the outside urban areas, the suburbs and excerpts. in those areas, historically presidential elections have been almost 50-50. so again but this is thing is the country is pretty much 50-50 and isn't a controlling come for example, rural are not controlling just as much as the collection of the 11 big states are controlling it. >> the problem with that is, and you can see this in political science but you can also see if you go out and work for a
candidate. i ran for the legislature washington state in 2006 in a district that we had some tightly packed suburbs and we had some very rural areas of people with big dogs that long driveways. every voter was mathematically equal in that campaign. you would be crazy to treat every voter the same, because we live in a world of finite resources. the lady down the long drive with the big dog was not going to get as much attention as the people who live in suburban housing developments. it's just a commonsense matter, to put any political science way. political organizing is easier as population density goes up, which means in a world where there are no checks and balances in the election system and everybody is mathematically equal, big cities are going to have more power plus more wealth. here's the real numbers.
these numbers look at cities rather than metro areas are very misleading. who here thinks you live in a state, i know if people from all around the country, who here thinks you live in a state thatt is more people in it and the three biggest metro areas in the country? anybody? anybody from -- are you from california? okay. the gentleman back there from california think ceilings in a state that as more people in the biggest three is in the country. i'm sorry, that's an quicker the biggest three metro areas in the country of 42.8 million people, california 8 million people, california has bought 41 million. right? new york, l.a., chicago. the three biggest nsa's from the census bureau that more people than california. if you look just at the cities, there's 15 million but if you look at the metro areas there's 42. in the. they don't all vote democratic. i actually don't think we should be careful not to make this too much of a person to become republicans versus democrats.
there are urban republicans, that liberal democrats. i live in oklahoma. i know that very well. what i think we should protect is a system that does say look, you can't win a presidency by running up the score where you are already popular, and you can't build a coalition taste around the biggest metro errors in our country for the republican, democrat, bloomberg running as an independent or whatever it is. you can't build a coalition like that and have a lot on the presidency because you cater to a handful of big metro areas in the country. >> i do want to interject too much at this point because i think we're now more or less at the heart of the debate, how votes count and a people are represented here but i do want to mention we're talking about what would happen, what might happen in terms of campaigns or policymaking. we had change a presidential election system significantly, but we do have some history
about a change in our elections alleys for your senators. i want to interject and ask both of you to respond. prior to 1914 u.s. senators were elected by the state legislatures. i believe starting in 1914 all of the states elected their use senate directly as we do now. coloradans will have an opportunity to vote in the u.s. senate election in 2020 as well people in many other states, and we will see the names of people on the bows and will cast votes directly for one of the candidate for u.s. senate. that wasn't always the case in u.s. history. is there any evidence? what can we learn from that? was it an official? data change policymaking in anyway? any way? i'll start with ted. >> were stopped, given from colorado and democrats just swept everything here, including a completely democratic legislature, being simply self interested, fine, let's go back to legislature picky and we look to equity could democratic
senators. >> that shows a transit these arguments are. >> putting that aside, what this argument is touching on his two things. one, how do you protect small states? and a confusion about the constitutional convention, the grand compromise which was in july about how the senate was going to be comprised, and how that is separate from the electoral college. a lot of people combine those, and you shouldn't. let's talk about the first piece in terms of protecting small states. that is true. united states sent was designed to protect small states. montana has two senators. california's two senators mac senators and that was definitely part of the debate, part of the compromise been made in the house would be proportionally represented based on population. the second point, the compromise of 1850 in which the senators were picked by the state legislatures has to be kept separate from the electoral
college because the electoral college decision was made into september 4 at the 1787 convention, whereas the 1850 compromise was that on july 7. i think it's important to keep those two separate. now, is it a good thing or a bad thing? i for national popular vote come some glyphosate people should elect. i think we need to be really careful that as we have a process how we elect a president when we now have had five elections where the candidate who won the electoral college and not the popular vote, and two of those are very, very recent. we're going to have more of those are in the upcoming future just because our country is so closely divided. what is it going to do and what does this say to the rest of the country and particularly, imagine what would happen if in this next election the democratic candidate one the electoral college and donald trump won the popular a lost the presidency. it will be a really unfortunate
situation in terms of how i think people are going to respond, and that's reason why every vote in every state should count in every election just the same. >> it's interesting. people are left to been saying that, going back to the '70s, and probably the '50s when it was another effort and coast guard to get rid of the electoral college. jfk was a big defender of the electoral college by the way. as entity. if we have have an election like this, it would be writes in the street and focal crazy, and 2000 rollaround and of course every state mattered in 2000 by the way. republicans have decided on a couple states mattered, only florida matter. the election would have been different. every state mattered in 2070 state matters in certain sense in every election. but americans seem to be more law-abiding than some of my progressive friends think they are what which i think is a god thing.
but no, i think these issues are all linked. this is the reality of the constitution. all these things come all these checks and balances work together. it's a political ecosystem. i often use this analogy because a way to school in seattle and the chocolate ecosystem. they drove into our heads. if you go out and to make some change in ecosystem can you get to say that animal is gone, so too bad nothing else is going to change. the whole thing will reorder itself. to the 17th amendment, the 17th amendment created a direct election of use senators fundamentally change our constitutional system. the best example of that is if you go to washington, d.c. now and you walk out at union station toward the united states senate, as a couple of building on your right and in those buildings on lobbyists for the state. i'm sure colorado has some lobbyists. those people are lobbying for state governments because, in
1913 the power of the state governments in washington, d.c. that was in our constitution from the beginning was taken away. it made possible things like the new deal which was intentionally designed to steer money around state governments, to take legislatures and governors out of controlling some of those funds they came into the new deal, to make them amity amby s has written broke about this, to make state space of incompetent and to give more power to the federal government and all those things are those things and repulsed by the sentiment. if the right argument we should have about what mtv we do and it wouldn't of course, it would mean everybody is just magically equal in every state gets equal attention to it which is been different places would get more attention after the places we get less attention. >> let me ask this because we've been talking about the states our to direct elect doors to vote in a certain way, or not in a certain way.
why the national popular vote interstate compact? why not a different way? for example, maine and nebraska don't have a winner-take-all system. they have a district system. ask both our panelists what the implications would be if rather than interstate compact more states cindy start to follow that model of maine and nebraska, where there are a couple of electoral votes that go to states popular vote winner but then of the votes are proportion by district. what would that mean for the electoral -- electoral college if more states took it upon himself to follow that model? why not lobby for change that we rather than via the interstate compact? >> it's a really good model for maine and nebraska, partly because they are small. they are not especially gerrymandered and basically you have a democratic leaning state, republican leaning state that
when he made the calculation that the basically have one congressional district that is a swing district and it attracts more attention to the state. in a highly gerrymandered state, a state with many more congressional districts, it's reducing the power of the state in presidential elections. winner take all is a calculation that maximizes the states power in presidential elections. that's why states have gone to that. it's good to states have that power. the court case that ted mentioned was about that. wasn't about whether states could ignore the will of the own people. it was about new states have -- few states have the power to the congressional district method or winner take all or something proportional has been talk about, proportional on the ballot in 2006. in my mind if you want something that is more mathematically equal best to all states to keep control of elections, proportional is a prayer recently to do that. what you don't want to do is
tell colorado voters, hey, we don't care how you voted and called about at all. we're going to give away our electoral votes based on the will of people in other states. and by the way, if you think that some of the state is doing something nefarious with her elections, national popular vote is it 100% trust but not verified system where colorado would have two certified election results and take other states at their word. .. the winner take all rule.
it focuses the attention to 12 states and those 12 states are picked by magical formula, there isn't something about how the electoral college set up, it is solely because their competitive space in presidential elections means all these other states get left out. trend will talk about the new deal and transferring power from states to the federal government. this is the most state-based constitutionally conservative you can approach to elect the president because it preserves the electoral college. the national popular vote happens, states can go back and reverse out of the national popular vote contact, you
couldn't do that with a constitutional amendment. that is preserving the power to the state. how much more 10th amendment can you get? if you go to a traditional district plan we go from battleground states to battleground congressional districts, that simple. proportional to even begin to work, all the states need to go to proportional at the same time. if you have individual states going to proportional over a period of time they are giving away electoral power. the other piece is how do you count electoral votes, how do you divide up the percentages? the simplest approach is to take the power in the constitution to the states, exclusive and plenary power that they, how they point there collectors with national popular vote.
>> the argument about swing states, think of it this way. there are swings senate district and a lot of them line up. when you talk about going into swing states you can attribute that to where swing congressional districts are, everybody knows how congress winds up with people who have been there a long time. you can't take the politics out of politics. the idea about state lines in presidential elections, we are not going to have candidates in congress and the white house still trying to do things in their political interests, just not true. all the votes are equal, i saw that up close. it's not how politics works. we wish it worked differently
but what we should be interested in is how things actually work. >> i want to let ted respond and put everybody on warning in the audience i am about to go to you for questions. thinking of your best questions for these panelists, there are cards. please respond and i will start calling on folks in the audience. >> if only what trent was talking about his true. when you look at battleground states and how it skewed public policy. let's take the resources out of the equation and for purposes of argument let's grant what trent is talking about in terms of the amount of money made that happen. how do you explain medicare part d with a republican congress and republican president? steel tariffs in pennsylvania, how do you explain this?
the bp disaster happens in the gulf, oil hits the beaches of louisiana, the beaches of mississippi, the beaches of alabama, the beaches of florida, president obama was in florida the next day. that is how we do public policy. i was in colorado, i'm a democrat. president obama came to colorado so many times, started having difficulty getting people to show up because he's here again. in our party he is revered. on for skewing and how the winner take all rule which is the essence of the problem, is skewing public policy. >> i want to hear trend explain medicare part d and the oil spill in terrible things the electoral college is responsible for. >> here's what happens if you take away the electoral
college. presidential candidates don't -- every voter is equal, right? i will start talking to people and get to 350 million. i wish we could do that but that's not how the world works. david bloom and karl rove, they would sit down and build a campaign strategy around something and it would have to be where our most people and you do polling and i participated in polling where you look not so much at that but how easy it is to change their minds and you build a profile how to change people's minds and compare that to population density so the suburbs of houston are where
you think you can swing 500,000 votes. if something happens in houston you will be in houston and if something happens in pensacola, it is -- you still have politics in politics. i don't like porkbarrel spending. i'm concerned with the way congress works more than executives, in a way that doesn't work, but i always appeal to people, go to the wargaming process. how would you do it? you would do it and the fact you do it some ways. >> a background in political -- >> supporting what trent is saying, they want an example how a presidential campaign would be run in the district of columbia campaign. take a look at how it happened
in hawaii who, a battleground state, presidential candidates have to win it. a presidential candidate when they were running in 2012 when we had the best data visited every single county. the percentage of visits was based on the number of people they had. there wasn't one county that didn't receive some type of visitor some type of money and we will have a same thing happened. every single state in every single county will get a presidential candidate stopping their state? know. if you think about the 30 some odd states that get ignored in a presidential election, something is better than nothing. >> i am going to proportional a lot questions in a district of this room. if you have a question please
raise your hand, looks like jordan over there, someone right behind me. start right there. >> so this week the 10th circuit in denver entered a decision on faithless electors which is to say electors cannot be bound by state statute which is in conflict with the washington state supreme court decision that says yes you can. what do you think applications are for the national popular vote as well is the electoral college in general? >> if i can jump in, i will warn people there is reporting that is not to say it implies something that is not right. it has very little effect on debate over the national vote in the state compact.
maybe you will find out now for the first time electors are elected officials who are nominated at state political party conventions. colorado democrats, colorado republicans have state convention to nominate electors and what the national popular vote and state compact would do, it does not tell the electors how to vote. it would change which electors get elected. if republicans win the popular vote and democrats win colorado, republican electors vice versa, read -- would be elected. the reason the issue sounds like a bigger deal than it is, whether or not they are going to be imprisoned for going against how they were supposed to vote they pledged to their party and nominated by their party because they believe they will follow through on their pledge. every faithless elector has been trying to send a message, never trying to swing an election.
>> i agree with trent. it is not as big a deal as people are making it out to be. you will just have better vetting at the state conventions as to who they are picking. the language in the constitution says the legislature shall appoint, the legislature, in terms of adopting winner take all has allowed within the party's nominating conventions to do this. another interesting fact is prior to the last election, the last 57 presidential elections there were 22,991 electoral votes cast. of that do you know how many were faithless? 17. this is a problem some people are making it out to be bigger than it is. >> next question over here.
>> a very interesting debate but we have to go further into this and it deals more with voters, voter id showing proof of citizenship, proof of residency, proof of what? [applause] >> i am going to let ted take this one. >> as a democrat, as much as i am troubled by republican state and the voter suppression tactics that are happening, surprise surprise. under the national popular vote compact, doesn't change any of that because state elections are still run by the states and that is an important difference between doing national popular
vote by constitutional amendment or by interstate compact. a constitutional amendment would require you create a federal election process. under the compacted is the states who run all of the elections so if the state wants to do id requirements, they still can, they are not prohibited from doing it. this, i got involved in this because of election security policy and we saw this and recognize tremendous threat to election integrity directly and indirectly and the challenge in this debate, he likes the electoral college. people behind the national popular vote don't want it to wind up having the electoral college, they prefer to go away. looking at the 17th amendment,
there was a similar strategy to throw sand in the gears and people threw up their hands and said we will abolish the state legislature in choosing senators and give you what you want but you have created so much confusion in this process my view is some of the people behind mtv that is the end game but here is the reality. in mpv, california has jurisdiction where they want noncitizens to vote, not in presidential races, they say, the california votes entirely by mail with same-day legislation, ballots only have to be on election day which means when they are counting they know how many votes they need which is how the 2004 governor's race was stolen in washington state. they found the right number of
votes they needed to steal that election. they said this. trust every other state. every other state in the compact would certified zone version of the national popular vote. you would have many national vote total certified as there are states in the compact and they are all asked to trust with no power to verify. nobody would put up with that. people in this room would demand that the federal government take power over elections because it would be the only act of self-defense against no fraud in other states so you have to do that. >> if only what frank was saying was true. let's talk about the certification. the california peace a number of republican supporters will say if you go to a national popular vote you will see increase in republicans who
turn out because a lot don't vote because it doesn't matter. it doesn't get counted. let's remember by going to national popular vote, both sides start voting. we can argue voter suppression and what all of that means. in terms of certification problem what trent is talking about today, if it were a problem under the current system and it is not in the current system because constitution and federal law lay this out clearly. once the state certifies the votes are all administered of hearings, it has to happen before the electoral college meets and we are not seeing this problem today so why would we be seeing it if we went to a national popular vote? >> i want to talk about the legitimacy of two systems because it is a problem for the electoral college with recent elections where the popular vote total doesn't match the outcome of the electoral college at a time when
americans generally have the least faith and a lot of big institutions including our government but on the flipside of the coin i heard the argument that under a national popular vote interstate contact, the elected president has only won a plurality of votes. what would happen in a situation like that if there is no majority winner, but a plurality winner if that will call into question the winner of the plurality, if you expected americans would accept that outcome is legitimate. >> we had the number of 18 and take a look at the president elected by plurality. guess which president that was, one of the greatest presidents we had, abraham lincoln. to take a look at this country and the history of voting, there is no indication that there's going to be a problem with that when you look at
gubernatorial elections, over 5000 gubernatorial elections. if there's a problem with this low percentage of candidates being able to win, we would have seen it after we had 5000 elections. >> you can't say we don't need the system right now because the history we have shows we wouldn't have a problem if we change the system. you follow that? our electoral college shade the ecosystem which trickle down to state level elections. the reality for lincoln or clinton, bill clinton with 41.8 or something like that. the electoral college require they draw the plurality from a geographically distributed area. you could win 38%, 41% from
california, new york, illinois. you could win a regional or what was happening in the late 19th century, you could win a plurality from the region, that is dangerous. if you win a plurality spread across the country that is not dangerous and does provide -- this is why other countries, there are few major foreign countries that use the direct national popular vote to elect their president. in france in the last presidential election 600,000 french voters cast blank ballots in protest because they did not like that in the final round of the election they were forced to choose someone who got 21% and someone who got 23%. the majority of french people were against the national popular vote system. it's not a panacea. >> i want to take one more question from the audience and
closing remarks from both of you. it sparked a good conversation about the legitimacy of these systems and how it might be accepted and so forth. looks like i have a question in the back. >> this is a very important debate, but it loses sight of the bigger issue. there is a lot of voter alienation and if we don't move back to a system where every voter feels his vote counts then we are going to lose the war. as we move along with this issue of national popular vote it is important to keep in mind there are other issues that are more important, there is gerrymandering. if we don't get rid of
gerrymandering there is going to be more voter alienation. if we don't get rid of voter suppression in this country, there's going to be more voter alienation. this younger generation going forward that is really important, they feel alienated. >> i will start. >> on gerrymandering i couldn't agree more. there are a number, this is republican link which, a number of democracy repealing measures we need to do. one to address that kind of issue which is to the extent we can take corruption out of the process. and i agree with the first point. if we don't start make every voter feel their vote counts we are creating problems over time. why not take the most conservative approach that is
constitutional, state based and preserves the electoral college and makes sure each of those vote counts and the voter feels their vote counts. >> i agree with the point voters feel alienated and discouraged and feels their voice doesn't matter whether it is at the ballot box or elsewhere, a lot of general discontent on both sides of the aisle. i would like to ask trent to respond to that and what decides a huge overhaul of the electoral college system would help more americans feel their voices were heard or their votes matter? >> great question, important question. the proof that in tv is not the solution is france and canada. canada is parliamentary. they are not directly electing the prime minister in canada. you could also -- the proof that it's not just about swing states is the northeast is if you look at the political
culture in new england, they tend to have high turnout whether they are safe for swing states. there is something going on but it is not so much about this. voters self-esteem is not an election system. and why the constitution is so important this would make it worse. i just want a president who represents
me. what does that even mean? i can make a real difference in my city, county, state so i would appeal to all of us to shift our focus and draw the young people around us to focus on the government closest to us to get people engaged where it matters most. >> i noted wants to respond. >> you are allowing 12 states to control the presidential election, 94% go there. it skews what policy is making. the problems trend is pointing out were worse under winner take all. the french election is like the california primary election. national popular vote has nothing to do with primaries and is inaccurate to compare france's way of collecting the president of the way the united states does no matter which
method. >> i'm going to let you know we are nearing the end of our time to discuss this important issue so this will be your closing remarks. >> to get it right the analogy is not the second round of french election but for first. in the first round macron got 23% and you win, you win all the marbles. not even going to have a runoff. it is even worse under national popular vote. with 23% of the vote, i am with winston churchill. democracy by which he probably meant republic, the worst form of government, acknowledging it makes people feel unhappy at all kinds of ways, we all lose and win sometimes but except every other form of government is worse.
the electoral college has served our country phenomenally well by forcing the southern democrats to reach out which is why jfk became a strong defender of the electoral college. his family would be alienated from politics of democrats would have won the white house based on a mix of voter suppression and driving up vote totals in the south. those are two of those elections, democrats would have won the white house just because they had such regional intensity and voter fraud as well. it is so much better to have a system that says you can't win just by driving up popularity where you are popular. you have to campaign in
pennsylvania, michigan and wisconsin. democrats, if you think you can win in utah you have a tendency to talk to people and these are good things about the electoral college system and we will keep our over elections at the state level like watertight compartments on an ocean liner where if something goes wrong in the election in one state it doesn't spillover and sink the whole ship. it can be dealt with in court or by congress but we can keep our over elections decentralized which makes a safer. these are really practical blessings of the electoral college and i think they should be. >> the challenge with trent's argument on plurality is it is a greater problem under the current system. an example, if you take the battleground states in 2012-2016, get 51% of the vote in those battleground states you can win the presidency because you and the electoral
college. if you know what the percentage is going to be 24%. if you think the plurality is a problem, under the current system with winner take all. t system and they spent a ton of money going after use our because it is reliably red. every time they spend in utah they are wasting and that is the problem we have with the system today. 3 quarters of states don't get a thing. they don't get any business and to say that is representative and going to protect democracy is ignoring what the truth is that the truth is under the current system we are skewing
public policy so the best way >> we have to leave it there. i was interesting for two reasons. i have a friend certificate that along to my great grandfather who was an elector. i live in colorado and the state legislature joins us for the -- in 2020, an opportunity for us to weigh in on whether we want the interstate compacts or not stay as part of the interstate compacts. the debate we are having today, and elect or in the electoral college discerning the nature of that and how presidents are elected.
thank you. [applause] >> talk about this stuff. >> more than 20 numbers of congress of announced they will not seek reelection in 2020. here are republican house members who announced, paul mitchell of michigan, martha roby of alabama, john shimkus of illinois, rob wouldall of georgia. another retired member, kenny margin of texas, james sensenbrenner, in wisconsin. congress has a busy few months when they return from the summer work period monday.
watch c-span's campaign 2020 coverage of the democratic presidential candidates at the new hampshire democratic party convention. live coverage is saturday at 9 am eastern on c-span. online, c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio apps. >> in june, ruth bader ginsburg and stephen breyer participated in a mock trial based on the "the oresteia" trilogy by aecschylus. five jurists considered arguments for lawyers in a murder trial for the princess of our ghosts and her brother orestes. the event was part of a series of mock trials hosted by the shakespeare theater company. this is just over an hour.
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