Green Party member’s civil action against Electoral College Mal-Apportionment goes to court 1/14/10

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Asa Gordon

Asa Gordon

Green Party calls Asa Gordon’s action a demand for fair elections, voters’ rights, and racial justice

A major voting rights civil action filed by Green Party leader Asa Gordon is scheduled for oral argument in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (No. 09-5142) on Thursday, January 14, 2010.

The civil action seeks enforcement of the US Constitution’s ‘Mal-Apportionment Penalty’ (14th Amendment, Section 2), which mandates a reduction of a state’s presidential electors and congressional representatives (“the basis of representation therein shall be reduced”) 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.”

Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party’s 2008 nominee for President of the United States said:

Asa Gordon’s civil action is a demand for fair elections, for the right of every voter to have his or her vote counted in a national election, and for racial justice

The civil action, Gordon v. Biden (formerly Gordon v. Cheney), addresses the antidemocratic mal-apportionment of Electoral College votes, voter dilution by race and/or party affiliation with the popular vote misrepresented by the winner-take-all system of allocating electoral votes. Documents, links, and other materials related to the action are available online (http://www.electors.us).

Asa Gordon, chair of the DC Statehood Green Party’s Electoral College Task Force and executive director of the Douglass Institute of Government, filed his civil action to protect the voting rights of presidential electors and the voters they represent in the US District Court (1:08-cv-01294) on July 28, 2008. His reply brief (http://mapxiv2usc6.free0host.com/APPELLANT%27S%20REPLY%20BRIEF_map.pdf) was filed with the court on November 6 and final brief submitted on November 27 (http://mapxiv2usc6.free0host.com/APPELLANT%27S%20FINAL%20BRIEF.pdf).

Mr. Gordon said:

My final brief provides a legal and historical overview of the Mal-Apportionment Penalty civil action, with a comprehensive context for the court and for anyone reading it. It asserts that the true measure of a democracy is not in counting how many votes are cast, but in how many of those votes that are cast truly count.

Gordon v. Biden pleas for a declaratory judgment by the US court for a proportional allocation of presidential electors that reflects popular vote percentages rather than the winner-take-all rule that has nullified the votes of millions of voters. It argues that winner-take-all apportionment of electors violates Section 2 of the 14th Amendment.

“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. We’ve witnessed in election after election how some states have used the winner-take-all formula to dilute the votes of Black Americans and other political and ethnic minorities from being counted,” said Sanda Everette, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

Greens said that Democratic Party leaders’ refusal to challenge Electoral College malapportionment in 2000 and 2004 blocked Democratic electors from voting in those elections, thus abandoning tens of thousands of their own voters, just as they failed to challenge the election irregularities in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 2004. Mr. Gordon has noted that the Democratic Party uses proportional assignment when it counts votes cast in presidential primaries, but has failed to fight for it in the general election.

Mr. Gordon led workshops for Green presidential electors during the Green Party’s 2008 National Convention in Chicago. The 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).

Archival video of an Asa Gordon Electoral College presentation:

MORE INFORMATION

Green Party press releases

• “Greens launch effort against Electoral College manipulation of presidential elections” (August 5, 2008) http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=85
• “Greens: Enforce 14th Amendment’s ‘Right to Vote’ Provision” (October 18, 2004) http://www.gp.org/press/pr_10_18_04.html

11 thoughts on “Green Party member’s civil action against Electoral College Mal-Apportionment goes to court 1/14/10

  1. MN Indy

    Presidents were never meant to be elected by popular vote alone, and the Constitution provides for a Republic, not democracy.

  2. VAGreen

    #1 Most other offices are elected by a popular vote alone. Is the Electoral College what makes us into a republic? Ir must not be, as the Constitution guarantees “a republican form of government” to every state, and no state uses a mini-Electoral College to elect its governor. All states use direct popular vote instead.

  3. mvymvy

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (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 Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

    The bill is currently endorsed by over 1,659 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Delaware –75%, Maine — 77%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 74% , Massachusetts — 73%, New York — 79%, and Washington — 77%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes — 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  4. mvymvy

    The Founding Fathers said in the U.S. Constitution: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all rule) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, Only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote.

    In 1789 only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all rule to award electoral votes.

    There is no valid argument that the winner-take-all rule is entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all rule.

    As a result of changes in state laws enacted since the 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all rule is used by 48 of the 50 states.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

  5. mvymvy

    A “republican” form of government means that the voters do not make laws themselves but, instead, delegate the job to periodically elected officials (Congressmen, Senators, and the President). The United States has a “republican” form of government regardless of whether popular votes for presidential electors are tallied at the state-level (as is currently the case in 48 states) or at district-level (as is currently the case in Maine and Nebraska) or at 50-state-level (as under the National Popular Vote bill).

  6. mvymvy

    The process for amending the U.S. Constitution does not reflect the will of the people. A federal constitutional amendment favored by states containing 97% of the people of the U.S. could be blocked by states containing 3% of the people.

  7. mvymvy

    Run-off elections are a dubious solution to the perceived problem. Elections are expensive to administer, and it is already difficult to recruit the required mass of citizen volunteers needed to operate a statewide election. Turn-out in run-off elections is invariably low, as evidenced in the handful of cities (and Georgia) that conduct run-offs, so it is hard to argue that run-offs promote democracy. A run-off election would require candidates to raise additional money on short-notice.

  8. The Inquirer

    I wonder why mvymvy would show up at a site dedicated to alternative parties and independent candidates to promote a plan that would lessen the chances of alternative parties or independent candidates ever being noticed or having any leverage?

  9. paulie Post author

    #1 Most other offices are elected by a popular vote alone. Is the Electoral College what makes us into a republic? Ir must not be, as the Constitution guarantees “a republican form of government” to every state, and no state uses a mini-Electoral College to elect its governor. All states use direct popular vote instead.

    No, but it helps to preserve some vestiges of federalism in the system, leaving some power to the states, especially small states. As a Green you should support decentralism, rather than concentrating as much power as possible at the federal level and above.

    Also, it’s true that without the electoral college (effectively, under NPV) alt-party and independent candidates have less influence.

    The Libertarians took off because one elector voted for them in 1972. Other parties in the past have gotten electoral votes by being regionally based. Under NPV, that is gone.

    On the other hand, with proportional allocation of electoral votes within each state, alt-parties have a greater – not lesser – chance of having a real role; Nader would have gotten electoral votes in 2000, for example.

  10. paulie Post author

    I wonder why mvymvy would show up at a site dedicated to alternative parties and independent candidates to promote a plan that would lessen the chances of alternative parties or independent candidates ever being noticed or having any leverage?

    Unadulterated chutzpah?

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