Greens launch effort against Electoral College manipulation of presidential elections

Press release from the national Green Party

Malapportionment of Electoral College votes may lead to a Republican victory despite the popular vote, disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters, especially black voters in southern states

Green civil action seeks to democratize the Electoral College by enforcing 14th Amendment voter protections, names Vice President Cheney as defendent

WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders said today that the outcome of the 2008 presidential election may be affected by the antidemocratic apportionment of Electoral College votes, with the popular vote misrepresented by the winner-take-all system of assigning votes to electors.

“We’re in danger of seeing the 2008 election stolen again, as in 2000 and 2004,” said Clyde Shabazz, Green candidate for the US House in Michigan (13th District) (http://www.migreens.org). “In Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, we witnessed the obstruction and manipulation of votes by election officials and possible tampering with computer voting machines. But equally insidious is the malapportionment of Electoral College votes, which disenfranchises whole sections of the voting public.”

A civil action to protect the voting rights of presidential electors and the voters they represent was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia (1:08-cv-01294) on January 28, 2008, by Asa Gordon, chair of the DC Statehood Green Party’s Electoral College Task Force and executive director of the Douglass Institute of Government (http://members.aol.com/digasa/dig.htm).

The action seeks relief against the defendant, Vice President Cheney, who will preside over the tabulation of “unbound electoral states” on January 6, 2009, challenging the recognition of Electoral College votes that are apportioned by states on a winner-take-all basis.

The civil action seeks enforcement of the ‘Mal-Apportionment Penalty’ provided in Section 2 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which mandates a reduction of a state’s presidential electors and congressional representatives if “the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States… is denied… or in any way abridged.”

The civil action alternatively seeks the issuance of a court order providing proportional apportionment of presidential electors.

“If two thirds of the voters in a state vote for a candidate from Party A and one third vote for a candidate from Party B, and the state’s winner-take-all rule gives all of the state’s electors to Party A, then one third of the voters have been disenfranchised in violation of Amendment 14, Section 2 of the US Constitution,” said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party. “We’ve witnessed in election after election how some states have used the winner-take-all formula to prevent the votes of political, ethnic, and other minorities from being counted.”

Mr. Gordon noted that the civil action had the potential to “alter the fate of the 2008 presidential election in a manner different from any presidential election in the nation’s history.” (http://www.electors.us)

“By refusing to challenge Electoral College malapportionment in 2000 and 2004, which blocked Democratic electors from voting in those elections, the Democratic Party’s leaders abandoned tens of thousands of their own voters, just as they failed to challenge the election irregularities in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 2004,” said Mr. Gordon. “Will they fail to challenge malapportionment again in 2008, and hand the Republicans another victory? Barack Obama would not be the Democratic nominee if not for the Democratic Party’s proportional assignment of primary delegates. The winner-take-all provisions in the general election present the distinct possibility that Mr. Obama in 2008 will win the popular vote by a considerably larger margin than did Gore in 2000, but will repeat the Democratic loss in the Electoral College.”

Mr. Gordon said that African American voters in several southern states* that were represented by proportional assignment of delegates in the Democratic primary, and who were critical to Barack Obama’s success, will be lost to Mr. Obama under the winner-take-all rules of the general election.

“If proportional assignment is considered by Democrats to be vital to democracy in their primary elections, why won’t they fight for it in the general election?” asked Mr. Gordon, who led workshops for Green presidential electors during the 2008 Green National Convention (http://www.gp.org/speakers/detail.php?ID=29) (http://www.greenparty2008.org/wiki/index.php/Workshops).

As a result of the workshops, several Green electors pledged to presidential candidate (and eventual Green nominee) Cynthia McKinney agreed to institute a program for enforcement of the Reconstruction-Era provision enshrined in the 14th Amendment.

“The ‘Democratize the Electoral College’ program exposes the hypocrisy and fraud behind charges that the McKinney campaign might ‘spoil’ the Democratic presidential ticket’s chances of winning. Democratic leaders should have to explain why they choose to ignore 13 additional electors from southern states that they’d gain through the Green Party’s presidential electors project. Why is the Green Party fighting to give voice to Democratic voters that the Democratic Party will not fight for? Let me be clear — we’re not doing this to assist Barack Obama, but to foster real democracy and voter participation, and to offer Cynthia McKinney as the truly democratic choice for all the people,” said Mr. Gordon.

Green Party leaders noted that after John Kerry quickly conceded the 2004 election, Democratic leaders failed to respond to thousands of complaints about voting irregularities in Ohio and other states. Green presidential nominee David Cobb and Libertarian nominee Michael Badnarik launched the Ohio and New Mexico recount efforts and collected the initial evidence that Republican officials had blocked the votes of many African American and young voters (http://www.iwantmyvote.com). Greens raised most of the money for the recounts. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) later held hearings and published evidence of the election theft (http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2005/1101).

Cynthia McKinney and running mate Rosa Clemente were nominated during the 2008 Green National Convention in Chicago, July 10-13.

The Green Party’s national platform endorses a constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College and providing for the direct election of the president by instant runoff voting (http://www.gp.org/platform/2004/democracy.html#309649).

“Americans don’t vote for President. Instead, we vote for an electoral college which was created in the late 1700s to expressly increase the power of the slave states — and which it is still doing,” said Mark Dunlea, an election law attorney with the Green Party of New York State.

* Asa Gordon’s civil action observes that the Office of the Federal Register of the National Archives and Records Administration explicitly declares that “the electors in these (Southern) States (ARKANSAS — 6 Electoral Votes, GEORGIA — 15 Electoral Votes, LOUISIANA — 9 Electoral Votes, TENNESSEE — 11 Electoral Votes, TEXAS — 34 Electoral Votes) are not bound by State Law to cast their vote for a specific candidate” (http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/laws.html).

The civil action was filed on July 28, 2008, to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the adoption of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. Since the debacle of the 2000 presidential election, the Green Party in partnership with the Douglass Institute of Government has led the way in educating Americans about their constitutional “right to vote” under the provisions of 14th Amendment, Section 2.

MORE INFORMATION

Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org

202-319-7191, 866-41GREEN
Fax 202-319-7193

Green candidate database for 2008 and other campaign information: http://www.gp.org/elections.shtml

Green Party News Center http://www.gp.org/newscenter.shtml

Green Party Speakers Bureau http://www.gp.org/speakers

Green Party ballot access page http://www.gp.org/2008-elections

Cynthia McKinney/Rosa Clemente ‘Power to the People’ Campaign for the White House http://www.runcynthiarun.org

Mal-Apportionment Penalty Civil Actions http://www.electors.us

“Greens: Enforce 14th Amendment’s ‘Right to Vote’ Provision”
Green Party press release, October 18, 2004
http://www.gp.org/press/pr_10_18_04.html

“Greens Push for Real Electoral Reforms at Carter-Baker Hearings, June 30”
Green Party press release, June 27, 2005
http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2005_06_27.shtml

2008 Green National Convention, July 10-13 in Chicago, Illinois http://www.greenparty2008.org

9 thoughts on “Greens launch effort against Electoral College manipulation of presidential elections

  1. Special K

    “If two thirds of the voters in a state vote for a candidate from Party A and one third vote for a candidate from Party B, and the state’s winner-take-all rule gives all of the state’s electors to Party A, then one third of the voters have been disenfranchised in violation of Amendment 14, Section 2 of the US Constitution,” said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party.

    “If two thirds of the voters in a nation vote for a candidate from Party A and one third vote for a candidate from Party B, and the winner-take-all rule gives the election to the candidate from Party A, then one third of the voters have been disenfranchised . . “,. said Special K, a reporter for the Disassociated Press, extending Ms. Grage’s argument to the more general case..

  2. Chris Cole

    In spite of the fancy tapdancin’, this release reveals a stunning lack of understanding of our political system. The US is a federal republic. The president isn’t the president of the American PEOPLE, but of the American STATES. That’s why the copnstitution provides for the state legislatures’ setting the method of selecting their respective electors. There is NO right to vote for president (except for the duly selected electors), so there is by definition no disenfranchisement of “African-American and young” or any other class of voters.

  3. ronaldkanehardy

    “The president isn’t the president of the American PEOPLE, but of the American STATES. ”

    And this is wrong – it should be changed. It is time to fix a mistake made 221 years ago. The Electoral College is a mechanism put into the Constitution because the ‘founding fathers’didn’t trust the American People to select the President directly. This is why we ended up with morons like George W. Bush as President.

    This statement in the story:

    The civil action seeks enforcement of the ‘Mal-Apportionment Penalty’ provided in Section 2 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which mandates a reduction of a state’s presidential electors and congressional representatives if “the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States… is denied… or in any way abridged.”

    Is relevant. However what I read in this was not that the 1/3 who voted for the “loser” were denied the right “to vote at any election for the choice of electors…” but that ALL VOTERS in many states are DENIED the right to vote for “electors” or candidates that are not Republicans or Democrats due to restrictive ballot access laws.

    I don’t know if this story addresses that very well, but I personally think it is relevant.

  4. donald raymond lake

    No, no, no! Keep black folk counted as 3/5 of a human being! Votes for non property owners? Oh puleeeeese!

    Keep the stretched squandered military might of the American fascist imperial global empire tuant as the infrastructure literally rots! .

    I first found out about the electorial college in the 1960s. Since being an elementary student, I have never, ever, ever tolerated it.

    I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. Did I mention that I hate it?

  5. langa

    I agree with Peter in comment #5. Most of these calls for “reform” are actually just sour grapes from whichever group of partisans happened to have lost the last election. If Obama wins a close election this year, the GOP will engage in the same kind of bitching and whining.

    Of course, none of this really matters much, considering that neither of the candidates with a realistic shot at winning are worth voting for.

  6. Sivarticus

    Thank God the Greens will never have a chance at altering our Constitution. They’d probably throw in an amendment for eternal reparations as well.

  7. Gregg Jocoy

    Well Peter, at one point in time some Greens did support abandoning the Senate as an institution as un-democratic. In fact that may have been a part of one or more Green Party platforms.

    I expect that most Greens, as with most US citizens, would be accepting of an approach which moves from a two-person per state system to one where each state has a minimum of some sort, perhaps one per state, and each may have a maximum, say four senators. That’s off the cuff and not evaluated at all, but that sort of approach would preserve the benefits of having a higher house while expanding democratic representation. I assume many would believe that to be un-democratic as well.

    There are any number of approaches that could be considered. Perhaps I should be permitted to vote for Cindy Sheehan. While I happen to live in South Carolina, there is no doubt that she represents me better than John Spratt, my congressman.

    I think the point worth considering is that the Green Party is not looking only at incremental improvements, but is also willing to evaluate fundamental changes as well. That is not the sort of thing the “majors” do, and frankly, I am more than a bit tired of every Green position here being subjected to rounds of attacks by the same voices every time we are covered here. How would you like it if I made snyde comments on every story about the CP, LP or others? Don’t for a minute assume that stories about the other parties offer no such opportunities. In short, this is not exactly encouraging.

    As to Chris Cole’s comments, I am just glad he stopped attending Charlotte Area Green Party meetings and removed himself from our mailing lists.

  8. darolew

    The GP’s positions on such issues can be largely understood by recognizing that the GP doesn’t believe in republics or states’ rights. The idea that the Senate is meant represent the states and not the people doesn’t sit well with them.

  9. mvymvy

    An alternative approach, that would make every vote in every state politically relevant and equal in presidential elections, is the National Popular Vote bill.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The National Popular Vote bill has been approved by 21 legislative chambers (one house in CO, AR, ME, NC, and WA, and two houses in MD, IL, HI, CA, MA, NJ, RI, and VT). It has been enacted into law in Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These states have 50 (19%) of the 270 electoral votes needed to bring this legislation into effect.

    see http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

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