tv Electoral College Debate at Steamboat Freedom Conference CSPAN September 2, 2019 4:41pm-5:42pm EDT
and thomas frank will join us to talk about a new report on u.s. federal disaster response. journal."hington join the discussion. >> now, oklahoma radio talk show host trent anglin debates democratic strategist about the electoral college versus the popular vote in electing the president. from the annual sting vote freedom conference, this is an hour. ♪ >> alright, good morning. let's talk about the electoral college and the popular state impact. thank you for the introduction. i'm proud to be a senior fellow. and that should explain my shoes. these are my tony blankley shoes, that are not to spoil anything for tonight, but they are typically awarded to new blankley fellows.
i'm joined today with a couple of distinguished panelists. i've got to trippe immediately to my left, although maybe a lot further to my left. we'll find out. [laughter] >> probably. >> he is the principal and ceo of the group, which is a progressive public policy strategy firm. the atlantic called him colorado's answer to karl rove. and i found another interesting tidbit from the denver post, says one of the most important players in colorado politics you've probably never heard of. well, that was in the denver post 10 years ago and i'm sure a lot more people have heard of him by now. previous to his work, he had a decade of government relations in political consulting, a government relations group at brownstein.
[applause] >> and we also are joined today by trent england, the executive vice president at the oklahoma council of public affairs. he's also a distinguished fellow, and that organization and prior to working in oklahoma city at the oklahoma council public affairs, he was the executive vice president at freedom foundation in washington state, and was ceo there for some time. once upon a time, he worked as a legal analyst for the heritage foundation, an organization some of you have heard of. among other issues, he helped develop their guide to the constitution. his work has been published in wall street journal, christian science monitor, and many other publications. he has a law degree from the george mason university, and his ba from claremont mckenna. join me in welcoming trent. [applause]
>> so i thought we would start by talking a little bit about the electoral college and the national popular vote interstate compact, which colorado joins this year. correct me if i'm wrong on the specifics, but i believe colorado became the 12th state to join the interstate compact? is that correct? >> 16 jurisdictions. >> 16 jurisdictions. so we're even further ahead now. there were 181 electoral votes? >> 196. >> 196, so my numbers are dated. 196 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 electors in those states would not follow the traditional electoral college system, but would instead cast their ballots for the winner of the national popular vote. and so i thought we would start by talking 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, what the interstate compact is, and whether or not this interstate compact would be the effective abolition of the electoral college or not, or sort of what the ultimate goal of the interstate compact is. maybe w'ell start with ted.
>> sure. first, i want to thank the board and rick for inviting me back up again. i probably am the leftist person in the room. and i'm proud of that. but i do want to say it's really important for people in my world to be at events like this, and i actually think we should have more people here because i don't
believe this country is separated as it's painted out to be in media today. and i can see that just in anecdotal conversations with you. so thank you very much for having me here. always glad to be here. [applause] and you did a great job explaining what the contact is. a lot of people pass it up. so, the interstate compact is a contract that states enter into bypassing legislation and says that you will, contacting state, agree that once there are 270 electors in the compact, cast your electors whoever wins all 50 state and district of columbia popular vote for president. now, there are two categories of reasons why we believe this is the appropriate approach. and then the third thing i will
talk about is the electoral college. first off, three quarters of the states in elections get 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, matter. they don't count in a presidential election. so ted, why would anybody care about that? because it skews policymaking. in addition to votes don't count, you think about medicare part d, the largest increase in entitlement spending in 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 loan during president obama's term went to a cheese factory where? in ohio.
and you have twice as many disaster declarations in battleground states versus non-battleground states. you have more of the grants that come from the federal government. so it's time, we believe, that every vote in every state should count the same. >> thank you. trent? >> yeah, so thank you so much for putting this on. i completely agree with ted, one of the reasons we were talking about this is that i spent so much time working on the electoral college and studying this, going back into the 1990's, but really over the last 10 years. it's probably because it's an issue where good people can disagree and there are democrats who agree with me. there are republicans who agree with ted. i think it makes it a more edifying issue to work on. but i do think it's important to go back to the getting of the electoral college in the beginning of the national popular vote movement to understand what the institution is about. and if you go back to the founding debate at the constitutional convention, you actually find a debate like this a little bit, which is, although it's james madison debating himself. because james madison stands up and says basically this.
i'd love to have a national popular vote for president. it's simple. it has undoubted appeal. some people said they couldn't do it because they rode horses and it was tough to get information out. that was not a concern raised. they could aggregate the votes. it would just take longer. the concern was the same concern i have today, which was madison says the problem with the national popular vote is inevitably, the power would wind up permanently vested with a big population centers. so as much as in theory i might like that, you find this all through the constitutional debates, right? 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 and the biggest
population centers and leave everybody else out. so we have an electoral college. we'll get into some of these things. it also provides ancillary benefits. if you bring madison back, he would say it works better than that i thought it would. but we'll get to that. the interstate contact was greeted by people who want to abolish the electoral college. i know it's important for people who don't want to abolish the electoral college. it leaves the electoral college in place to manipulate and get a result that goes against what madison was trying to do. but it was crated by people who said we want to get rid of the electoral college, but amending the constitution is too hard. so let's come up with a compact that changes how states of word electors so we can get what we want. and the founding of the national popular vote, very smart computer scientist in california, also invented a scratch off lottery ticket, so he has lots of winnings to invest in his effort. he bragged to the new york times around -- as a state-by-state way to elect the president of the united states. the electoral college keeps elections at the state level and prevents population centers from controlling the branch from controlling everyone else. for those reasons, i think we should keep it the way it is.
>> ted, do you want to respond to the abolition of the electoral college? >> yeah, and the simple fact of what trent is ignoring is it's not about the electoral college. it's about the winner take all rule. whoever wins the most popular votes within that state, all those electors go to that presidential candidate for that particular state. the winner take all rule was never debated in the
constitutional convention. it is not part of what the discussion was. and it is never mentioned in the federalist papers. and so what we really should be talking about is how the winner take all rule skews public policymaking, and how it would be better for the united states to get rid of the winner take all rule and move to a national popular vote. the other thing i want to mention is it's great to talk about what is mentioned at the constitutional convention, ideas about different ways of voting. but in the end, they couldn't agree. and what was written was really simple language. each state shall appoint, in a manner such as the legislature, a number of electors. this language, we're all constitutionalist here, this language was held by two different supreme court's that say states have the exclusive
authority to determine how electors are chosen. and this is exactly what the founding fathers intended was that the states could do it the way they wanted, the way the winner the take all rule came about was if you were estate didn't do it, you were giving up half your electors by 1880, actually by 1880, most states did the winner take all rule. they said it's fair to other states. in the supreme court says, because of the liquid in the constitution, if the disadvantages you, it disadvantages you. >> so i have to confess i took an uber here this morning from a different part, and mike will driver asked me a question and while we were having a discussion of the electoral college, my cooper driver, i told him i said i'm moderating a debate at the college. he said oh, you mean the racist institution that's an artifact of the institution? the slaveowning country? i wanted to respond to that. understandably, people who oppose the national popular vote was opposed to urban centers. but i guess there's a perception that the electoral college waited our presidential system in favor of less populous states that were more rural, and perhaps slaveowning. what do you say to that?
>> yeah, and many people have alexandria ocasio-cortez just yesterday, i think, saying that same thing. and it is simply, while it is true that race-based slavery is the original sin of our country and we should be serious about that, it is not true that it was the primary motivating factor among the compromise that shaped compromise.
the electoral college is a pop-up congress if you think about the math of it. it's selected by the states, exists to elect the president and goes away. the implication is that it's not so much about the electoral college. it's about the compromise that crated congress and the senate. and there were small states in the south. there were small states in the north. it's just a strange argument that people make where they ignore the real political dynamics, which as you mentioned, new york and virginia were the big states. one in the north, one in the south. they both had slavery at the time of the founding but new york was in the process of abolishing it thanks to people like alexander hamilton. it was not the reason why we have the electoral college. frankly, if you go forward in history and maybe we'll come to this later, if you look at the post civil war elections, electoral college actually prevented racist vote suppression from stealing the white house in at least one election. whatever the intentions were, we seen the electoral college protect minority interest, specifically freed slaves and their ancestors, protect them. and so i think we should look at the history, too.
>> interesting. >> my response to that would be, i think what acosta cortez is -- ocasio-cortez is talking about, and as a devout liberal, i am not in that camp. i think she is a danger to the party. i just want to be on record saying that. [applause] >> but she so much fun. >> the one thing about her having the attention she's having, we're no longer going to see nancy pelosi on mail pieces. [laughter] >> i think her comment about
being racist and what the cabdriver was talking about is probably more about when they were trying to do the constitutional amendment in the 1970's to get rid of the electoral college, and the agreement from senators in the south. and it was in part about race and protecting certain power centers, because it was when new york was a battleground state. there's a theme that keeps running through trent's comments, big states are going to control. big cities are going to control. and we have to think about what the country looked like at the time of the founding fathers. if we have two big ones, you only have 11 other states. today, we may have 10 big states, 11 big states. and then the other 38 states. they represent the same number of people.
and with big cities, if you take the 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 states are going to control the elections, the arithmetic just doesn't support it. the other thing you have to think about is that assumes that big cities are always going to vote all democratic and big states are going to vote, which is actually not the case. when you take a look at the largest states, the highest percentages democrats receive, 63%, that is the same for the remaining 38 states for republicans. so what that says to us is that this country really is a much 50-50. and when you take a look -- another example, 1/6 of people live in urban centers in the united states. 1/6 live in rural areas. and the same kind of percentage flip applies to that 1/6. the rest of the country lives in the outside urban areas, the suburbs. and in those areas, historically, presidential elections have been almost 50-50. so again, what this is saying is the country is pre-much 50-50 and there isn't a controlling.
for example, rural areas aren't controlling it like the 11 big states. trent: the problem with that is, and you can see this in political science, but you hope to see it if you work for a candidate -- i ran for the legislature in washington state in 2006 in a district where we had tightly packed suburbs, and we had some very rural areas with people with big dogs down long driveways. and every vote was equal. every voter was mathematically equal in that campaign. but you'd be crazy to treat every voter the same because we live in a world of finite resources. the lady down the long driveway with the big dog was not going to get as much attention as the people lived in suburban housing developments.
>> it is just a common sense matter. the political organization -- organization -- organizing is as easy when the population goes up. to -- big are 10 cities tend to have more power. who here thinks you live in a itte that has more people in than the three biggest metro areas in the country? the gentleman here from california inc. the lives in a
state that has more people than the biggest metro areas in the country. l.a. and chicago. the three biggest have more .eople than california if you look at just the cities, million.15 but if you look at the metro area, there's 42 million. they certainly don't all vote democrat. i have to be careful to not make this too much of a partisan debate, republicans versus democrats. republicans,al
rural democrats. i know that very well. what i think we should protect is a system that does say you can't win the presidency by running up the score where you're already popular, and you can't build a coalition based around the metro areas in our country. whether you're a republican or democrat running as an independent, whatever it is, you can't build a coalition like that and have a lock on the presidency because you cater to a handful of metro areas. >> i don't want to interject too much at this point because i think we are more or less at the heart of the debate, how votes count and how people are represented. but i do want to mention we are talking about what would happen,
what might happen in terms of campaign or policymaking. we changed our presidential election system significantly, but we do have some history about a change in our elections, at least for u.s. senators. so i went to ask both of you to respond. prior to 1914, u.s. senators were elected by the state legislatures. and i believe starting in 1914, all the states elected their u.s. senators directly as we do now. coloradans will have an opportunity to vote in the u.s. senate election in 2020, as will people in many other states. and we will see the names of people on the ballots and cast votes directly from one of the candidates for u.s. senate. that wasn't always the case in u.s. history. so, is there any evidence? what can we learn from that? is a beneficial? did it change policymaking in any way? i'll start with ted. ted: first off, given i'm from colorado and democrats just swept everything. being completely self interested, fine. we'll have two really good democratic senators. moderator: shows are transient the arguments are.
ted: putting that aside, with the argument is touching on are two things. one, how do you protect small states? and two, a confusion about the constitutional convention, a grand compromise in july about how the senate was going to be comprised, and how that is separate from the electoral college. because a lot of people combine those two, and you shouldn't. so, let's talk about the first piece in terms of protecting the state. that is true. it was designed to protect small states. montana has two senators, california has two senators. that was definitely part of the debate. that was part of the compromise, and the house would be proportionally represented based on population. on the second point, the compromise of 1850, in which the senators were picked by the state legislatures, had to be kept separate from the electoral college because the decision wasn't made until september 4 at the 1787 convention. whereas the 1850 compromise was done on july 7. so, i think it's important to keep those two separate.
no,w is it a good thing or is it a bad thing? i'm for national popular vote, so i'm going to say people should elect. i think we need to be really careful, that as we have a process of how we elect a president where we now have had five elections where the candidate won the electoral college but not the popular vote, and two of those are very, very recent. we're going to have more of those because the country is so closely divided. and what is that going to do and what does that say to the rest of the country? imagine what would happen if the democratic candidate won the electoral college and donald trump won the popular vote and lost the presidency. it would be a really unfortunate situation in terms of how i think people are going to respond. and that's the reason why i think every vote in every state should count just the same. trent: interesting, people on the left have been saying, going back to the 1970's, and probably 1950's, where there was another effort to try to get rid of the electoral college, and jfk was a big supporter of the electoral college.
but if we have an election like this, there will be riots in the streets. 2000 rolled around, of course every state mattered. republicans have this idea only a couple of states mattered. george bush managed to lose any of the states, al gore managed to win any of those states, the election would've been different. every state matters. but americans seem to be more law-abiding than all my progressive friends think they are, which i think is a good thing. no, these issues are all linked. it's the reality of a constitution. all these checks and balances work together. it's a political ecosystem. i often use this analogy because i went to school in seattle and they talk a lot about ecosystems. they drove it into our heads. progressive friends think they are, which i think is a good thing. no, these issues are all linked. it's the reality of a constitution. all these checks and balances work together. it's a political ecosystem. i often use this analogy because i went to school in seattle and they talk a lot about ecosystems. they drove it into our heads. if you go out and make some change in the ecosystem, you can't just say that animal is gone, so to bed, but nothing
--too bad, but nothing is going to change. to the 17th the men meant's itnt -- amendment's point, fundamentally changed our constitutional system. the best example of that is if you go to washington, d.c. right now, and you walk out of union station toward the united states senate, there's a couple of buildings on your right. and in those businesses -- buildings are lobbyists for the state. those people are lobbying for state governments because, in 1913, the power of state government and washington, d.c., that was in our constitution from the beginning, was taken away. it may possible for things like the new deal, which was intentionally designed to steal money around governments, to take legislatures and governors out of controlling some of those funds that came to the new deal to make state governments appeal
to be basically be in confident, and to give more power to the federal government. i think it's the right argument we should have about what mtv would do. and it wouldn't mean everybody is just magically equal in every state gets equal attention. it would mean different places get more attention. moderator: let me ask this because we've been talking about the state power to direct electors to vote in a certain way or not in a certain way. why the national popular vote interstate compact? why not go about this a different way? for example, maine and nebraska don't have a winner take all system. they have a district system. i want to ask both our panelists what the implications would be if, rather than an interstate compact, more states simply started to follow that model of maine and nebraska, where there are a couple of votes that go to the state's popular vote winner,
but then other votes are proportioned by district. what would that mean for the electoral college if states took it upon themselves, more states, to follow that model? i'll start with trent and i want to hear from ted. why not lobby for change that way rather than the interstate compact? ted: it's a really good model for maine and nebraska, partly because they're small, they're not especially gerrymandered. you have a democrat state, republican leaning state, that you have one congressional district that's a swing district. it attracts more to their state in a highly gerrymandered state, the state with many more congressional districts, you know, it is reducing the power of the state in presidential elections. winner take all is a calculation that maximizes the state's power in presidential elections. that's why states have gone to
that. i think it's good states have that power. the court case that ted mentioned was about that. it wasn't about whether states could ignore the will of their own people. it was about due states have the power to reflect the will of their people through congressional district method or winner take all, or proportional to what is on the ballot here in 2006. in my mind, if you want something that is more mathematically equal but still want states to keep control over elections, proportional is a very reasonable way to do that. what you don't want to do is tell colorado voters hey, we don't care how you voted in colorado at all. we're going to give away our electoral votes based on the will of people and others pay -- other states. and by the way, if you think some other state is doing something nefarious with their elections, national popular vote is a 100% trust, but not verified system, where colorado
would have to certify election results and take other states at their word. ted: there's three different arguments going on. moderator: lots to respond to. ted: got to unwind this. the overall kind of theme that i think we all need to remember, and i have a lot of respect for trent. we've been getting really well prior to the debate. trent: and we will after. ted: we will after. we'll drink together. the essential problem is winner take all rule. it focuses policy attention to 12 states. in those 12 states aren't picked by some magical formula. there isn't something how the electoral college was set up that makes them important states. it's solely because they are competitive states in presidential elections. that means all these other states get left out. is, i also find fascinating trent will talk about the new
deal and what's going on and transferring power from the states to the federal government. based, the most state constitutionally conservative approach you could have in order to elect the president, because it preserves the electoral college. let's say some of the horrible's that trent was talking about happened. states can still go back and reverse out of the national popular vote compact. you couldn't do that with the constitutional amendment. that is preserving the power to the states. how much more 10th amendment can you get than that? now, to proportional and congressional districts, if you go to congressional district plans, you essentially go from battleground states to battleground congressional districts. it really is that simple. for proportional to even to begin to work, all the states need to go to proportional at the same time.
if you have individual states going to proportional ovary period of time, they are just giving away votes. how do you count electoral votes if you have and outnumber? how do you divide what the percentages are going to be? the simplest approach is to take the power that's invested in the constitution to the states, an exclusive power, that they can appoint electors how they want, and how they appoint electors in a way that ends up doing national popular vote for the president. trent: the argument about swing states, think about it this way, right? there are swing senate districts. a lot of those things line-up. and when you talk about courts going into swing states, you can attribute that just as much to where swing senate district are, where swing congressional district are. everybody knows power in congress winds up with people who have been there a long time, right?
you can't take the politics out of politics. the idea that ripping state lines out of presidential elections means that your not going to have corporal spending or you're not going to have candidates in congress or the white house still trying to do things in their political interest. it's just not true. it doesn't work that way. as i said, as a candidate where all votes were equal, i saw that up close. it's just not help politics work. maybe we wish it were different, but like james madison, but we should be interested in is how things actually work. moderator: i want to let ted respond and then i want to put everybody on warning in the audience that i'm about to go to you for questions. think of your best questions for the panelists. are there cards/ there are cards, excellent. wonderful, thank you. so ted, please respond, and then i will start calling on people in the audience. ted: if only what trent was talking about was true.
if it's clear you look at battleground states and the amount of additional resources they receive, and how it skews public policies, let's take resources out of the equation. just for purposes of argument, let's grant what trent is talking about in terms of the amount of money and swing districts. well then, how do you explain medicare part d with a republican congress and republican president? how do you explain steel tariffs in pennsylvania? how do you explain this so the bp disaster happens in the gulf? louisiana,aches of beaches of alabama, beaches of florida. president obama was in florida the next day. that is a skewing of how we do public policy. i was there in colorado. i'm a democrat. 2008-2012,bama, from came to colorado so many times, we had difficulty getting people to show up. they're like, oh,my god.
he's here again? and in our party, he's revered. so we've got to remember in this giving and the winner take all rule, which is the essential problem, it's skewing public policy. moderator: i do want to go to the audience, but first i want to hear trent explain medicare part d and the oil spill the terrible things electoral college is responsible for. trent: again, here's what happened if you take -- get rid of the electoral college. karl rove don't vanish. they don't say i don't need you guys anymore because every vote is equal. i'm just going to go out and start talking to people. eventually i'll get to 350 million or whatever. again, i wish we could do that. but that's not how the world works. then david luther, karl rove, they would sit down and build a
campaign strategy around something. and i think it would have to be, where are the most people? and then you do polling, and i participated in polling like this, where it's not necessarily what people believe, but how easy is it to change their mind? you build a profile of how easy it is to change certain people's minds, and then you compare that to population density. so if the suburbs are houston are where you think you can swing 500,000 votes, right? if something happens in houston, you're going to be in houston. the something happens in pensacola and you look at the polling, those people are pretty set in their ways. you're still going to have politics and politics. that's the problem with this. i don't like corporal spending. i'm more concerned with the way congress works than the executive these days, or the way it doesn't work. people,lways appeal to
go to the wargaming process. if you were a political campaign or, how would you do it? and you would do it. the fact that you would do it some ways -- moderator: i'm sure ted would do a very good job. ted: if only the arithmetic supported what trent was saying. how presidential campaign would be run if it was a nationwide or all 50 state and district of convio campaign, take a look at how it happens in ohio. it's a battleground state. the presidential candidates have to win it. a president or candidate, if they were running, let's say 2012, they visited every single county. the percentage of visits the areas of the state got was based on the number of people that they had their. and there wasn't one county that didn't receive some type of visit. there wasn't one that didn't
receive some type of money. and we're going to have the same thing happened with the popular vote. stateh is every single going to have a candidate stop in their state? no. 38 if you think about the states that get ignored, they are going to get something and something is at her then nothing. moderator: i'm going to proportionally a lot questions to people in this room. someone is right behind you. we'll start there. week, the 10th circuit in denver entered a , which was to say electors cannot be bound to vote by state statute, which is in conflict with a washington state supreme court decision that says yes you can.
what do you think the implications are for the national popular vote debate, as well as the electoral college generally? trent: if i could jump in on that. there's reporting that's not correct. i read a fox news story that i'm sorry to say, implied something is not right and i think ted and i agree on this. it has very little effect on the debate of the debate compact because you have to remember or maybe you'll find out for the first time, electors are elected officials who are nominated at state political party conventions. when the colorado democrats, colorado republicans have conventions, they nominate electors. and what they would do, and this is where fox news got it wrong, it's not tell the electors how to vote. it would change which electors get elected. and so if republicans win the popular vote and democrats when
colorado, the republican electors would be elected. why it 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 have pledged to their party and been nominated by their party because their party believes they would follow through, to vote for the nominate, which is why every faceless election has been trying to send a message in never trying to swing an election. ted: i actually agree with trent. it's not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be. what will happen is we will have better vetting at the state conventions as to who they are taking. keep in mind, the language with the constitution says the legislature shall appoint. they appoint the legislature. and the legislature in terms of adopting winner take all has
allowed to do this election. and another interesting fact, prior to this last election, the last 57 presidential elections, there were 22,000, 991 elect votes cast. 91, do you know how many were faithless? 17. this is a problem people are making out to be much bigger than it is. moderator: ok, next question. over here. >> ok. this is a very interesting debate, but i think we have to go a little further into this. and it deals more with voters, ok? voter id, showing proof of citizenship, proof of residency, and last but not least, proof of life. [laughter] [applause]
i'm going to let ted take this one. actually, as a democrat, as much as i am very troubled by republican states and the voter suppression tactics that are happening -- [booing] ted: surprise, surprise. come on. it doesn't change any of that. it's still run by the state and that is an important difference between doing national popular vote popular amendment or by interstate compact. require thatwould you create some type of federal election process. under the contact, it's the states who still run the elections. so if the state wants to do id requirements, whatever, they still can. they're not prohibited from doing it. i got involved in this
because i worked on election security policy in washington state and we saw this and recognized the tremendous threat to election integrity directly and indirectly from the national pipe of the vote interstate compact. debate challenge in this -- i'm going to take ted at his word. he likes the electoral college. the people behind the popular vote don't like the electoral college. they prefer it go away. you look at the history of the 17th amid meant, there was a somewhat tesh amendment, there was a somewhat similar strategy until people said look, we will abolish the role of state legislatures and give you what you want because you crated so much confusion in this process. some of the people behind mpv, that's their end game. even if it's not, here's the reality. it, california
has passed it. they have jurisdictions where they want noncitizens to vote. not in presidential elections. but california votes by mail. they have same-day registration. the ballots only have to be postmarked by election day, each means the day after election day , they know exactly how many votes they need, which is how the 2004 governors race was stolen in washington state. they found just the right number of votes that they needed to steal that election. mpv says this. trust us. trust every other state. every state in the contact would be certifying their own version of the vote total. you literally would have as many popular vote totals certified as inside the contact and they are asked to trust every state. nobody would put up with that. people in this room would demand
that the federal government take power over elections because it would be your only act of self-defense against vote fraud in other states. and so you would have to do that. ted: if only what trent was saying were true. let's talk about california first, and the certification of votes in the state. on the california peace, a number of our republican supporters will say over and over that if you go to a national popular vote, you will see an increase of republican vote turnout because a lot of republicans in california don't vote because it doesn't matter. it doesn't get counted. let's remember by going to national popular vote, both sides have an incentive to start voting. we can argue about voter suppression and what that means. in terms of the certification problem, but trent is talking about today, if it was a problem under the current system. if it's not in the current system, because the constitution and federal law lays this out clearly.
the canvas of the vote is counted once the state certifies the vote. congress counts those votes. that has to happen before the electoral college meets. we are not seeing this problem today, so why would we see this if we went to national popular vote. interject i want to because i do think it's a problem for the college when we have 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 in a lot of big institutions, including our government. on the flipside of the coin, i've heard the argument that under national popular vote interstate compact, and forgive my numbers if i'm wrong, but as many as 13 times in american history, the elected president has only one a plurality of votes. what would happen in a situation like that if there's no majority winner? if there a plurality winner, if
that would call into question the results of the election, or if the winner of the plurality, if you expected americans would ask -- accept that outcome. ted: we had 18. and you take a look at the presidents elected by plurality, do you know which president that was? one of the greatest presidents that we had, abraham lincoln. you take a look at the country and the history of voting, there's no indication that there's going to be a problem with that, particularly when you look at gubernatorial elections. there have been over 5000 gubernatorial elections. if there's going to be a problem with a low percentage of candidates being able to win, we would've seen it after we had 5000 elections. trent: but you can't say we don't need the system right now because the history we have under the system we have right now shows we wouldn't have a problem if we changed the system. you follow that, right?
our electoral college shapes the ecosystem of our politics, which trickles down to state-level elections, including governor races. the reality for lincoln, for clinton, bill clinton won with 41.8, something like that, is at least the electoral college required that they draw that plurality from a geographically distributed area, right? 41% from win 30%, california, new york, illinois. you could win in a few more states. you could win a regional, or the south, like in the late 19th century. you could win regions, that's what stagers. if it's present across the country -- what's dangerous. if it spreads across the country, there are very few major foreign countries that use a national popular vote to elect
their president. france's, you look at last presidential election, 6000 voters cast blank ballots in protest because they did not like in the final round, they were forced to choose between someone who got 21% and someone who got 23%. the majority of french people were against the two candidates in the national popular vote system. moderator: my apologies to ted, i want to take one more question from the audience, and then i'm going to take closing remarks from both of you. audience member for asking about voter id because it sparked good. conversation looks like i have a question in the back. sorry. jordan's got the mic. >> i think this is an important debate, but i think site of the bigger issue. that there'ssue is
a lot of voter alienation in our country. if we don't move back to a system where every voter feels his vote counts, he or she, her vote counts, then we are going to lose the war, ok? so, i think as we move along with this issue of national popular vote or whatever, it's really important to keep in mind there are other issues at their that may be more important, and that is gerrymandering, for example. if we don't get rid of gerrymandering, there's going to be more and more voter alienation. if we don't get rid of voter suppression in this country, there is to be more and more voter alienation. and it's this younger generation going forward that is really important. they feel alienated right now. moderator: thank you. ted: on the gerrymandering part,
i couldn't agree more. therese this language, are a number of measures that we need to do. to address that kind of issue to take corruption out of the political process. and i also agree with the first point. if we don't start to feel like the vote count's, we are wasting time. why not take the most conservative approach and preserve the electoral college in order to make sure each one of those votes count, and that voter feels like the vote counts? moderator: i happen to agree that a lot of voters feel alienated and discouraged and like their voice doesn't matter, whether at the ballot box or elsewhere. there's a lot of general discontent on both sides of the aisle. but i want to ask trent to respond to that, and what besides a huge overhaul of our
electoral college system would help more americans feel that their voices are heard or their voices matter? trent: it's a great question, an important question. the proof that mtv is not the solution is france and canada. and theyparliamentary, are not directly electing a prime minister in canada, but canada has very high voter turnout. and the proof that it's not just about swing states or safe states is the northeast. if you look at the political culture in new england states, they tended to have very high turnout, whether they're safe or swing states. so there's something going on there. it's not so much about this. i would also say, as important as the issue is, i think voter self-esteem is not a test of an election system, right? i feel disenfranchised might mean the civics teacher didn't teach you why it is so important to have a system of states.
worse. mpv would get we have entered into this age, social media is a part of it, but i think cable news, 24 hours news cycle that sucks all of our attention. and one of the reasons i left d.c. was because i think we have to focus more on our state and on our communities. if we reorient voters i just want a president who represents me -- what a silly idea. what does that even mean? but i can make a difference. that would appeal to all of us to try to shift our focus and draw the young people to focus on the governments closest to us to get people engaged where it matters most. moderator: i know ted wants to respond. ted: in the meantime, you're still allowing 12 states to control the presidential election.
94% of presidential visits go there, the vast majority of money in the campaign goes there, and it skews what federal policy is making. the problems trent is pointing out are actually worse under winner take all. the french election is like the california primary election. it is top two. -- national properly popular vote has nothing to do with it, and no matter which method that we do. moderator: we are nearing the end of our time to discuss this important issue. this will be her closing remarks. right,ted is actually. macron gott round, 23%, and they say, there you go, winner.
they did not even have a runoff. ted is right. it is even worse under national popular vote, you win was 23% of the vote. winston churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, acknowledging it makes people feel unhappy in all kinds of ways. we all lose or win sometimes, but he said except every other form of government that we even tried is even worse. i think that the electoral college has served our country phenomenally well. it helped us sell ourselves back together after the civil war. why jfk became such a strong supporter of the electoral college, right. onehe democrats could have the white house, those were two
of those elections that were supposedlyr election were when democrats would not have won the white house under the system just because they had intensity and vote fraud in there as well. it is better to have a system win says, look, you cannot just by driving up your popularity where you are already popular. you actually have to go out republicans, in wisconsin. can openrats, if you an office in utah, you have to go talk there. and we will keep power over elections at the state level, where if something goes wrong in the election in one state, it does not spill over and sink the whole ship. electionsp power over
decentralized which keeps -- makes us safer. either all practical blessings of the electoral college and i think they should be preserved. ted: the challenge was trent's argument on plurality is it is a greater problem under the current system. if you take the battleground states that we have had in 2012 the2016, if you get 51% of vote just in those battleground states, you can win the presidency because you win the electoral college. you know what your percentage for the national popular vote is going to be -- 24%. you have a much bigger problem under the current system with winner take all. the other flipside of this is the arguments he is making are ones you can apply to winner take all and it makes it worse. example, i hope trying runs for republican campaign under
the current system and they spend a ton of money going out to utah, because utah is reliably red. every dime they spend in utah they are wasting. that is the problem we have. three quarters of the states don't get thing, they do not get any visits. to say that is representative and that is going to protect democracy is just ignoring what the truth is and the truth is under the current system, we are skewing public policy and we are skewing how money is distributed. the best way again is make sure every vote counts. every vote in every state, and you can do that with a state based, conservative, constitutional, preserve the electoral college approach. moderator: we have to leave it there. i was interested in this topic for two reasons. certificate for my grandfather who was an elector at one time, and i am a
coloradan. 2020, we will have a ballot referendum and opportunities for onas voters to weigh in whether we want our state to stay in the interstate compact or not. the debate we are having here today will determine if i am fortunate to follow in my grandfather's footsteps and to in the electoral college, so please join me in thanking these panelists. [applause] moderator: >> supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg delivers remarks in arkansas as part of the lecture series hosted by the clinton foundation and clinton
school public service. live coverage begins tuesday on c-span. campaign 20's coverage of the democratic presidential candidate at the party convention. our live coverage is saturday at 9:00 p.m. eastern. ever year, c-span awards fellowships to several middle and high school teachers who have demonstrated innovative methods of incorporating c-span programs in their teaching. relations team in washington, d.c. for four weeks in july to develop new teaching materials and also help c-span summer educators conference. at a high school in