Federal Appeals Court Reaffirms The Constitutional Rights Of Electors

The Constitution has never required electors to vote for any particular candidates. They were always free to vote their conscience. The question in Colorado revolved around whether the state can control the electors. The Federal Appeals Court ruled that they could not…that interfering with the choices of the electors was clearly unconstitutional. It was ever such but seldom came up in practice.

But that might all be changed now and there is going to be room for renewed shenanigans around the Electoral College vote in the future. Beyond the recent history of the winner of the popular vote losing the presidency in the Electoral College…we now have another reason to consider changing how we elect our president.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday evening that Colorado’s presidential electors do not have to back the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote.

The decision could have significant consequences for future presidential contests and is likely headed to the Supreme Court. 

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in a 2-1 decision against the Colorado secretary of state in a case stemming from the 2016 presidential race.

At the time, three of the Centennial State’s nine electors tried to vote for candidates other than Democrat Hillary Clinton, who had won the state’s popular vote.

The appeals court ruled that the Constitution provides “presidential electors the right to cast a vote for president and vice president with discretion. And the state does not possess countervailing authority to remove an elector and to cancel his vote in response to the exercise of that Constitutional right.”

btw: I may be a little dense here…but how would an electoral vote for Kasich instead of Clinton prevent a Trump victory?

The case before the appeals court revolved around a dispute over the decision of then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams to order the three electors to back Clinton. 

Michael Baca, one of the electors, declined, instead opting to back then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) as part of an attempt to deny Donald Trump a victory.

Fixing Gerrymandering Is Now Up To US!

Given the “one person, one vote” principle is intrinsic to the US Constitution, it is inexplicable that the US Supreme Court would bow out of the partisan gerrymandering issue as not their job. But last week that is exactly what they did:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal judges have no power to stop politicians from drawing electoral districts to preserve or expand their party’s power, a landmark ruling that dissenters said will empower an explosion of extreme partisan gerrymandering.

The 5-to-4 decision was written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and joined by the court’s other conservatives. It capped decades of debate about whether federal courts have a role in policing partisan efforts to draw electoral districts in the same way the judiciary protects against racial discrimination.

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” Roberts wrote. “Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.”

In his opinion, Roberts did not defend the practice, or say it was constitutional. “Excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust,” he wrote. “But the fact that such gerrymandering is incompatible with democratic principles does not mean that the solution lies with the federal judiciary.”

Well…bullshit…but that leaves the issue in the hands of the electorate if the court won’t address it…the only people who have that power under the Constitution. So what happens next?

The decision comes as the public appears to have grown more outraged by the practice. In the last election, voters in five states either limited the power of state legislators to draw electoral lines or took it away from them altogether by creating independent commissions to do the work.

So how do we fix it in Wisconsin? Well first, Governor Tony Evers is behind a non-partisan redistricting plan. We can certainly support him in those efforts but given the current gerrymandered Wisconsin legislature…that isn’t going to go very far. Yet it makes sense to follow that route since we know that Democrats are also willing to gerrymander when they have the power to do so. It only makes sense to hand redistricting off to an unbiased third party group or committee.

What it’s probably going to take is a voter uprising and an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution to require a neutral redistricting. And that too will get tremendous push back and draw major dollar contributions from the state GOP and elsewhere. Do you think Wisconsin has the gumption to put this up to a vote?

Extra credit reading: Here’s how to fix partisan gerrymandering, now that the Supreme Court kicked it back to the states.

Moving Spring And Odd Year Elections

Somebody besides me is paying attention:
Nevada Democrats advance a bundle of bills to expand voting rights and increase voter turnout

Separately, the Assembly approved a bill sponsored by Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske that would require local elections be held on dates that coincide with federal and state elections instead of in the spring or in odd-numbered years. Assembly members also passed a bill to require a general election take place for local offices even if a candidate wins a majority in the primary. Together, these two bills would mean local elections would get decided in November of even-numbered years, which would boost participation considerably in some locales.

emphasis mine

Just sayin’…

h/t to another regular reader for bringing this to my attention.

Endorsements for Tuesday April 2 2019

I still think odd year spring elections should be eliminated and moved to even years to increase voter participation and reduce costs for municipalities…but I don’t run the show so we are voting Tuesday anyway!

Not sure who’s on the ballot? CHECK HERE! But my picks based on my ballot!

Wisconsin State Supreme Court: Lisa Neubauer

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 40: Danielle Shelton

Now I have two other contended races on my ballot for Milwaukee Public School Board. For my local district 8, I am supporting Megan O’Halloran. In the citywide race, I haven’t made up my mind yet…the candidates are Stefanie Dugan and Bob Peterson.

But I ask that all of you exercise your right to vote Tuesday April 2. Click here to find your local ballot and click here to find out where to vote and then vote!! And don’t forget to bring your PHOTO ID!

Usurping the Electoral College: Yea or Nay?

I had been watching the Colorado vote on using the national popular vote in a presidential election to assign their electoral college votes. Essentially whoever wins the popular vote would be assigned Colorado’s electoral vote.

The legislation was passed in March and signed by the governor on March 15th. This bill makes Colorado the 11th state to use the national popular vote to assign their electors. But is this a good idea?

I understand the sentiment…and more than a few progressives and liberals think the electoral college stymied the actual desires of the voters in 2000 and 2016. And they are correct…but is this the proper method to fix the issue?

If the overall national sentiment is to replace the electoral college with the results of the popular vote…shouldn’t the lawmakers put forth a Constitutional Amendment rather than back door similar results? I realize the states get to pick how they apportion their electors, but this end run trend is a little troubling.

I haven’t taken a position on this…other than it troubles me that we are being a bit devious in an attempt to circumvent the Constitution. And I am not sure how I would react if Wisconsin took up the issue.

But it isn’t really settled yet…the legislation has its own backdoor and will only be implemented if enough states adopt the program to provide the minimum 270 electors. Well to me that’s a whole new issue as the number of electors per state is wont to change after every census…hmmmm.

The state’s legislation would only take effect if enough other states sign on to secure the cumulative 270 electors needed to elect a president, and Colorado’s votes raise the current total to 181 electors. Most states have winner-take-all laws in place dictating that their electors go towards whichever candidate takes the state’s popular majority, while Maine and Nebraska opt to proportionally split their electors based on the vote.

The eleven other states that have signed on — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state — as well as the District of Columbia and now Colorado, make up the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

And does something like this make it even harder for a third party to break into presidential elections? Right now a very strong local candidate could pick up their home state electors…in a national winner take all they’d have no chance.

So, actually, I’d like to hear your ideas on this National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.