New York Times: “Around 40,000 people, nearly one in five names on the list, shouldn’t have been on it, the state determined. And it only found out before anyone was actually turned away at a polling place largely because of volunteer sleuthing. Few people had expected a problem at that scale. But the process gave hope to people working on voting rights, who for years had pushed the state to be more transparent in how it was maintaining its voter rolls.”
“On Dec. 19, 2016, a little more than a month after the presidential election, members of the Electoral College gathered around the nation to cast their votes. Ten of them went rogue,” the New York Times reports.
“A swing by that number of electors would have been enough to change the outcomes in five of the previous 58 presidential elections, according to a petition filed last week in the Supreme Court. In the 2000 election, after an assist from the Supreme Court, George W. Bush beat Al Gore by just five electoral votes.”
“The petition asked the justices to decide whether ‘faithless electors‘ were free to disregard pledges they made to vote for their own parties’ candidates. It urged the court to act quickly.”
“Three presidential electors in Washington state who voted for Colin Powell in 2016 rather than Hillary Clinton and were fined under state law, are asking the US Supreme Court to take up their appeal and decide whether a state can bind an elector to vote for the state’s popular vote winner,” CNN reports.
“If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal of the so-called ‘faithless electors,’ it could thrust the justices into yet another high-passion political fight in the heat of the 2020 presidential election.”
“New voters have registered in droves in Georgia since last year’s midterms, expanding the electorate ahead of the 2020 presidential election year when the state is expected to be a key political battleground,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
“More than 352,000 people signed up to vote in the past 11 months, the vast majority of them automatically registering when they obtain a driver’s license… The influx has boosted Georgia’s voter rolls to a record high of nearly 7.4 million.”
“A federal judge ordered a temporary injunction Thursday against California’s first-in-the-nation law requiring candidates to disclose their tax returns for a spot on the presidential primary ballot, an early victory for President Trump but a decision that will undoubtedly be appealed by state officials,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came out Thursday in support of providing states with an additional $250 million in election security funding, an abrupt turnaround after more than a year of opposition by the Kentucky Republican on the issue,” the Washington Post reports.
A new University of Texas study quantifies just how often the Electoral College will produce an “inversion” — “that is, an election where one candidate wins the popular vote but the other walks away with the presidency. The numbers are simply astonishing,” Vox reports.
“In modern elections where one party prevails by just 2 points in the two-party popular vote, ‘inversions are expected in more than 30% of elections.’ That number rises to 40 percent in elections with a 1 percentage-point margin.”
“Republicans, moreover, are far more likely to benefit from an inversion than Democrats.” From the study: “In the modern period, Republicans should be expected to win 65% of Presidential contests in which they narrowly lose the popular vote.”
Julia Azari: “In the past, the Electoral College has provided a clear result under troubled circumstances, enhanced the appearance of a decisive victory for the eventual winner, and rarely overtly distorted the will of the electorate. It has also shaped how candidates campaign, turned the focus of elections to a limited number of competitive states, and twice in the past two decades, awarded the presidency to the candidate who came in second place in the popular vote.”
“In other words, the complex compromise institution created in 1787 isn’t necessarily doing much to address the political problems we have today. And when it comes to the legitimacy of our institutions and the intensity of political conflict, it might be making them worse.”
New Hampshire Gov Chris Sununu (R) vetoed the so-called “no excuse” absentee voting bill Friday, “warning it would erode the state’s vaunted political tradition of in-person participation at the polls,” the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.
“Advocates of the bill had wanted New Hampshire to join 28 other states and the District of Columbia, which allow voters to obtain an absentee ballot without having to give a reason for why they can’t make it to the polls.”
“Maine will be the first state in the country to use ranked choice voting to choose a president, the state’s governor announced Friday,” the HuffPost reports.
“Under the new system, voters will rank their choices for president in the general election instead of choosing just one (if there are more than two candidates on the ballot). If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the candidate with the least first-place votes gets eliminated. The second choice votes of everyone who voted for the eliminated candidate then get distributed to those remaining. The process continues until a candidate gets a majority of the vote.”
Ohio Democrats filed a lawsuit attempting to stop Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s plan to remove more than 200,000 voters from registration rolls next week for sitting out too many elections, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
New York Times: “If you were looking for the perfect distillation of how dysfunctional the American system of electing the president is, it would be hard to top last week’s federal appeals court ruling allowing ‘electors’ — the members of the Electoral College — to vote for whomever they want, rather than the candidate they were pledged to support…”
“After electors unanimously chose the nonpartisan George Washington in the first two elections, national political parties developed and electors became partisan actors who voted for their party’s candidate.”
“In other words, electors aren’t distinguished citizens weighing whether the people have made a wise decision on their presidential ballot; they are men and women chosen because of their partisan loyalty. So it’s understandable that after years of tightly contested elections, Americans are aghast that an elector would dare to substitute his judgment for the will of the people.”
E.J. Dionne: “The assumptions underlying a controversy are often more important than the controversy itself.”
“Take the case of our blithe acceptance of the electoral college. There is nothing normal or democratic about choosing our president through a system that makes it ever more likely that the candidate who garners fewer votes will nonetheless assume power. For a country that has long claimed to model democracy to the world, this is both wrong and weird.”
“And there is also nothing neutral or random about how our system works. The Electoral College tilts outcomes toward white voters, conservative voters, and certain regions of the country. People outside these groups and places are supposed to sit back and accept their relative disenfranchisement. There is no reason they should, and at some point, they won’t. This will lead to a meltdown.”
“The Democratic National Committee will recommend rejecting a plan for ‘virtual caucuses’ in Iowa and Nevada, introducing a level of uncertainty in the caucus states ahead of the upcoming election season,” Politico reports.
“A source with knowledge of the decision said late Thursday that the DNC will recommend rejecting Iowa’s virtual caucus proposal ‘due to security concerns.’ Sources confirmed to the Associated Press that Nevada’s system faced similar peril.”
Said the email blast: “Crazy AOC wants to ABOLISH the Electoral College. Let’s remind her this is OUR country, not the Coastal Elites.”
Of course, it was Trump who once called the Electoral College a “disaster for a democracy” and a “travesty” when Barack Obama won re-election in 2012.
Naturally, Ocasio-Cortez seized on the old tweet: “I’m so glad the President and I agree that the Electoral College has got to go.”
“To find a clue about what might have gone wrong with Georgia’s election last fall, look no further than voting machine No. 3 at the Winterville Train Depot outside Athens,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
“On machine No. 3, Republicans won every race. On each of the other six machines in that precinct, Democrats won every race. The odds of an anomaly that large are less than 1 in 1 million.”
“It just so happens that this occurred in Republican Brian Kemp’s home precinct, where he initially had a problem voting when his yellow voter access card didn’t work because a poll worker forgot to activate it. At the time, Kemp was secretary of state — Georgia’s top election official — and running for governor in a tight contest with Democrat Stacey Abrams.”
“The suspicious results in Winterville are evidence in the ongoing mystery of whether errors with voting machines contributed to a stark drop-off in votes recorded in the race for Georgia lieutenant governor between Republican Geoff Duncan, who ended up winning, and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico.”