Archive for the ‘Voter education’ Category

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Electoral College, huh?

November 1, 2008

These days all the media pundits have been speculating over the Electoral College while the polls are based on the popular vote. Several readers requested that this blog provide an article explaining the Electoral College as they expressed some bewilderment over this topic.

WHAT IS THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE?

The Electoral College is a body of electors who formally select the President and Vice President of the United States, on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December of a presidential election year. This body consists of 538 popularly elected representatives; this number reflects the number in our Congress (both the House of Representatives and the Senate) plus three from the District of Columbia. Therefore, in order to win the presidency, a candidate will need to win 270 electoral votes (one more than the exact half).

HOW DOES THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE WORK?

The electors are decided upon on Election Day, the day of the nationwide popular vote. When a candidate carries a state, he/she wins electors from that state. The number of electors in each state is based on congressional districts; i.e., the state of California consists of 53 congressional districts and 2 senate seats; therefore California carries 55 electors. All the states except for two are winner-take-all states; the two exceptions are Maine and Nebraska where a candidate collects electors based on the districts he/she wins on Election Day. These electors themselves cannot hold office in the United States Congress.

Several weeks later, these electors meet at their respective state capitals to cast their votes.

WHY THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE?

To many people, the Electoral College does not make sense and needs to be abolished. In the beginning of our nation’s history, the Electoral College made sense and was considered an innovative tool of the American brand of democracy. The Electoral College was established by our Founding Fathers when they wrote up the United States Constitution. At the Constitution Convention in 1787, the smaller states such as Delaware and Rhode Island sought to protect their states’ power without being overpowered by larger states such as Virginia and New York due to differences in population numbers. Also these states did not want the Congress to have extra power by picking a president and vice-president without any popular vote, so this power was switched to the citizenry.

At that time, some politicians believed a purely popular election was too reckless, while others objected to giving Congress the power to select the president. The compromise was to set up an Electoral College system that allowed voters to vote for electors, who would then cast their votes for candidates. The Founding Fathers believed the Electoral college itself reflected very much the U.S. Constitution itself which was based on a compromise between population-based and state-based governances.

This is how we ended up with the Electoral College. Yes, our presidential elections are really based on a two-vote process – the popular vote and the Electoral College.

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Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors

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DEAF DEMOCRATS News Updates

February 9, 2008

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As of Saturday, February 9th, 3:00 p.m. MST, two pieces of news need some updating. One piece deals with the issue of delegate count, as the difference between MSNBC and CNN tallies grows wider. The other piece of news explains more on the difference between suspending a campaign and dropping out.

Along with the addition of “Deaf Eyes Maps” page, you will notice some changes in the Deaf Democrat Derby and the Elephant Thumping Contest pages to show both MSNBC and CNN numbers. You can see that the MSNBC tally doesn’t take into account the number of superdelegates while the CNN count does. We the DEAF DEMOCRATS editors are committed to providing information with as much accuracy as possible to our readers. We have noticed that as this 2008 primary season moved on, the MSNBC and CNN numbers split wider and wider. This also reflects the fact that the superdelegates as a group is a very fluid factor, changing each week. We figure it best to start showing both tallies from now on.

As for the difference between suspending a campaign and dropping out, we have collected more information in the past two days. The bottom line is that while the Republican contender Mitt Romeny suspended his campaign, that didn’t mean that he had dropped out of the picture completely. By suspending his campaign, he is allowed to keep his delegates, if something happened to front-runner John McCain’s campaign.

Another thing about suspending a campaign is that while a candidate may not actively seek the nomination, his campaign committe does not shut down, as long as there are still some outstanding bills and loans left. Take former Senator John Edwards as an example. His 2008 campaign committee is still open, and it is the same for his 2004 campaign committee only because of some still outstanding bills that have not been paid for!

Several readers have asked us what will become of Mitt Romney’s pledged delegates. As MSNBC News reported, “…if McCain secures their support — combined with his own delegates — he would be nearly at the magic number and Huckabee would be mathematically eliminated. It is unlikely Romney would throw his support to Huckabee; the animosity between the two has pervaded the GOP race.”

And guess what?? At the time of this posting, Mike Huckabee is winning the Kansas caucus over John McCain today, with something like 60% over McCain’s 29%!! This comes as a huge surprise to us! How many more rabbits does Mike Huckabee have in his hat now??

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 200 WORDS
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors

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Who are the Superdelegates?

February 3, 2008

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by CB Buchholz

Our Deaf Voter Education page drew a lot of attention from our readers and also many questions on the differences between pledged delegates and superdelegates. The two most common questions were these — who were the superdelegates, and how did the Democratic National Committee come up with a huge group of superdelegates? Time for a civics lesson here!!

WHO ARE THE SUPERDELEGATES?
There are 852 super delegates, roughly 40 percent of the amount of delegates needed to win the nomination. The superdelegates are defined as unpledged delegates who legally reside in their respective states and are recognized as part of their state’s delegation. They include:

* members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)

* if applicable, the Democratic President and the Democratic Vice President of the United States

* all Democratic members of the United States House of Representatives and all Democratic members of the United States Senate

* all the Democratic governors, if applicable.

* all former Democratic Presidents (Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter), all former Democratic Vice Presidents (Walter Mondale and Al Gore), all former Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders (Dick Gephardt), as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party Committee, plus two hundred members apportioned among the states based on population, plus a number of elected officials serving in an ex-officio capacity, and a variety of representatives of major Democratic Party constituencies, some of who are appointed by party chairman Howard Dean.

WHY SUPERDELEGATES?
In the last half of the 20th century, the Democratic Party suffered several presidential election losses. The primary voters chose George McGovern as the Democratic nominee who lost in a Richard Nixon landslide of 1972, before the Watergate scandal erupted. Then in 1976, Jimmy Carter ran as a dark horse Democratic nominee who scored an upset victory over President Gerald Ford.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter survived a challenge by Senator Edward Kennedy for the Democratic nomination, only to be landslided by Ronald Reagan in the November election. Four years later, Reagan landslided yet another Democratic nominee, Walter Mondale. Then we saw Michael Dukakis get clobbered by George “Poppa” Bush in 1988.

By then, the Democratic Party leaders wanted a new system where they could influence the nominating process and block the nomination from a candidate they thought was “unwinnable.” They figured that if they had such mechanism in place during the 1970s, they could have blocked Jimmy Carter’s nomination which in turn would have prevented a series of election losses occuring since then. Thus, the system of pledged delegates and superdelegates was created.

Many people have made claims that with the delegate/superdelegate system, the Democratic Party ran the risk of alienating millions of Americans who participated in the primary/caucus process. As one website explained this — Many see the (superdelegate) system as undemocratic… It was set up as a safety net for party leaders to correct a ‘mistake’ by the voters. When this system was being devised in the late 1980s, Al Gore, then a senator from Tennessee was quoted as saying, “It’s a risk, but when you lose 49 states, it’s time to take some risks.”

Only time will tell if this delegate/superdelegate system really works to the benefit of the Democratic Party, in terms of picking candidates with the “right stuff” and winning presidential elections.

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 200 WORDS
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors