March 27th, 2008
11:55 AM ET
11 years ago

Nelson calls for banning Electoral College

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Nelson is calling for regional primaries."](CNN) - Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, on Thursday proposed an overhaul of America's presidential election laws, saying the current dispute over delegates in Florida and Michigan has exposed a flawed nominating system in need of reform.

In a speech on the floor of the Florida State Senate Thursday morning, Nelson said he will formally introduce legislation that will attempt to fix many of the problems exposed by this cycle's round of presidential primaries, adding the "time for reform is now.”

"This country cannot afford to wait that long, before we fix the flaws we still see in our election system," Nelson said. "The blessings of liberty cannot wait."

Specifically, Nelson said he will propose six rotating interregional primaries that "will give large and small states a fair say in the nomination process." The regional primaries would be conducted on dates ranging from March to June, Nelson also said, taking the place of the current early-voting states Iowa and New Hampshire - states which critics have long argued are not representative of the American electorate. The dates would initially be set by a lottery system for the 2012 election and would rotate positions in successive elections.

Nelson called for early voting in every state and the elimination of voting machines that do not produce a paper trail. The Florida Democrat also said all citizens should be allowed to vote absentee if they so choose, and is pushing for a federal grant incentive program to help develop voting by mail and via the Internet.

Nelson will also formally seek award the presidency based on the popular vote result, instead of via the Electoral College – a reform that will require a stand-alone bill since it would require an amendment to he Constitution.

"The goal is simple: one person, one vote," Nelson said in his speech Thursday.

Full story

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

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soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Hans

    We preach democracy around the world. We even start wars in the name of democracy and our brave soldiers are killed in the name of democracy. But we don't practice it at home! How can we preach democracy with a straight face, while we disenfranchise our citizens who produce a majority vote by electing a President who received the minority vote? That system may have made sense a couple of hundred years ago, but not in the 21st century. It is time we follow what we preach! Good luck, Senator Nelson!

    March 27, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. John, Los Angeles

    Poor Nelson, he's scared this whole thing will backfire on him and now he wants to change the constitution over strategic blunder by Florida Dems.... Rules are rules, they cannot be changed everytime someone does something stupid and needs to be bailed out. These rules were set over 18 month before the election, they had enough time to evaluate the consequences..payday is now, you cannot try to twist the DNC's arm intoo granting your wish or else next time many more states will follow suite, and the Dem party will become a chicken parlour.

    March 27, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. Tony, Wilton, ME

    None of this will fly with the small states which means the bill for reforms won't get through the Senate.

    The Constitutional Amendment has even less chance since it requires ratification by the state legislatures of states like NH, Iowa, SC, etc.

    The ideas are fine – if you live in California or New York or Florida or...

    You become irrelevant if you live in a small state.

    March 27, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. Robert

    People you have no clue and to how the primaries work. You have no rights whatsoever to be included should the party decide to trash the current system and leave it up to party leaders to select the nominee.

    We have voted and nobody won. Neither have enough delegates nor will they when the last ballot is cast. Its a draw. Move on to phase two of the process, let the supers vote and don't tell them how to vote the will of the people was heard and NOBODY won.

    As for the Electoral College, trash it. It is outdated and does not address the evolution of the United States.

    March 27, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. jennym

    The people who voted in Fl and MI were NOT the only ones who were "disenfranchised" The people who did not vote were also because they followed the rules.

    I agree that the primaries could be done in a much better way . The FEB 5th strategy to get a candidate early failed. It was skewed toward Clinton since she was the better known person at the time. I think it is better for the primaries to be spread out more . 23 states in 1 day . look what that got us, a long protracted fight.

    I think the smaller states like Iowa and NH, need to go first so the unknown people can afford to campaign, and do retail politics. I'm not sure it needs to be those two, but it needs to be a couple of smaller states, and Nevada and SC were chosen for diversity reasons.

    When you get to bigger states the costs of campaigning go way up so less known candidates would not have a chance if they were early .

    March 27, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. Dan

    That makes entirely too much sense. A nation of individuals having their individual votes tallied and applied to the candidates. Not a nation of STATE RESIDENTS or PARTY VOTERS or ELECTORATES, but individuals with a single vote. It would open up third and fourth parties to contention and might result in America resembling an actual Democracy! Entirely too much sense. It'll never happen.

    March 27, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. Dan

    Thank you Gary for pointing out we are a REPUBLIC and not a Democracy – something that has been ignored for 100 years in popular vernacular. A republic requires representation of the "popular vote" from one's region as opposed to just the popular vote.

    Someone later pointed out that this is unnecessary now since technology makes it possible for the entire population to gather – something impossible in previous times, thus requiring representation. (change?)

    I love the comment that a close vote would require the entire country to "recount ballets" and how funny (and controversial) it would all end up being. (Thanks "other Dan")

    Additionally, a republic allows a representative to vote the will of their area – something we expect to reflect how the majority of their constituents voted. That means they represent not only those who lined up and formally cast a vote, but the general public who did not as well.

    A minority group, say African Americans as an example, have greater representation in a republic than they do in a democracy because it is harder to shout down their voice by the sheer volume of majority – thanks to this equal representation (or, "more equal" to be more accurate).

    The changes need to be in the primary processes, not the Constitution.

    March 27, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. Daniel - San Antonio, TX

    Bravo – encore. I think this is a great idea. As with many things....times they are a changin'. Its not like it used to be when the constitution was written and the majority of Americans simply had no idea what was going on (well – maybe its not so different after all)....but we have an unlimited amount of resources available for all of us to make a well thought out decision.

    I love the idea of a rotating lottery system. Great idea. This could change our entire spectrum of how politics they pander to certain areas differently etc. Could increase participation in both parties – ultimately....could be a great thing for America.

    March 27, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Jack

    Let's reform the primary system:

    1) Get rid of caususes... they prevent thousands of people from voting... that's why the general election is a primary, not a caucus

    2) Have proportional allocation of the delegates in every state so voters in each state get to see the candidates campaign and get to have a say in who becomes our next president

    3) Every state should be a semi-closed primary (only independents and voters belonging to the party holding the primary can vote, not members of the other party)

    4) Upon turning 18, everyone should be automatically registered to vote (as an Independent.... they can then switch to a political party).... if we can't automatically register everyone, then voting registration should be allowed through the day of the primary instead of an arbitrary cut off date

    5) Changing party affiliation should be cut off by December 31st of the year prior to the election year

    March 27, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. Bernie

    All I can say is IT'S ABOUT TIME. The lunacy of primaries has become apparant this year and the electoral college should have been eliminated 50 years ago.

    March 27, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Luke

    In the words on Glenn Beck: "Too Bad." Florida, you agreed to set your own rules in the beginning and then played by them; deal with it. And voter disenfranchisement is not a valid argument when the voters of Florida elected the officals who made this historic case of mis-judgement. Congratulations Flordia, you have managed to throw ANOTHER wrench in the election proces..

    March 27, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. Jack

    Don't get rid of the Electoral College..... it really does help Democrats.

    Most blue states are the large states with the most electoral votes... therefore, all Republican votes in the large states are meaningless.... I wouldn't want these Republican votes to actually start counting

    With the Electoral College, Democrats only need to go after and campaign in the swing states like Florida, Ohio, and PA.... it makes their job easier

    March 27, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. Stacy Clarks, Texas

    we're going to take advice from the person that started all this mess?!?!?!

    trying to cover up your HUGE GAFF?!?!


    March 27, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. Jeff

    The primaries are not the responsibility of the federal government. The national parties work with the states to establish the primary format, rules, participation requirements, and the timing. If the primaries are broken the parties (DNC/GOP) should address the problems not the federal government.

    While I do not agree with abolishing the Electoral College at least it is within the purview of the federal government. Send the legislation forward and let's have the debate.

    March 27, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Kafir

    The electoral college prevents the presidency from being dominated by people whose policies only appeal to large urban populations. If it were eliminated, places like Utah and Wyoming would never see a presidential candidate again. This is as close to guaranteeing that our president is a president to all of us that we're ever going to get. Abolish it, and NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, and LA will run the country. Not a good prospect for someone living in the southwest. The bottom line is that we can rail on it until our faces turn blue but in order to get rid of it, the very people who would lose power would have to vote for it. Since that will simply never happen, you're best to save your breath. I do like his other ideas of rotating the primaries around. Iowa and New Hampshire have dominated that for far too long.

    March 27, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Becca

    I'm all for abolishing the Electoral College. Where is it written ANYwhere that this process is needed? Why can't the President of the United States be voted for exclusively by popular vote? What difference does it make from which State the vote came from?

    Nor do I think primaries need to be held on a rotating basis. One day, all States vote all at once. No results are released until the last State's polls are closed, on penalty of FCC license revocation (yes, we're looking at you, broadcast morons).

    Let's take back our elections and vote for the government we're supposed to have, rather than pandering to 'electors'. We're the electors, folks. No one else's opinion should matter.

    March 27, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Vin

    Gary makes a good point on the founding fathers – they were scared as hell of giving the people all the power.

    The beauty of the US Constitution they created is that it takes a serious majority (2/3) to change the constitution via amendment. This makes sure that the opinions of the simple majority don't trample the rights of the minority (most of the time).

    On the other hand, the problem with the US Constitution is that in times of crisis, we are paralyzed from making meaningful change (with the exception of Presidential wartime powers). It is why even if Democrats sweep the Senate, House, and Presidency, the Republican packed Supreme Court will hold serious change back.

    If you want real change, we need to change the system. We did it before in 1913 when the 17th Amendment allowed the people to vote for Senators. Now its time to remove the other block on the people's power, the electoral college, so that all American votes count.

    The problem is that the only time any politician want s to change it is after they lost (Gore, this guy Nelson, and now Hilary if she loses the nomination).

    March 27, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. HH


    Looking to bend the rules anyway possible.


    March 27, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Mariana Simone

    So, let me understand we have to amend the constitution if that's what it takes for Hillary to win?

    March 27, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. Kaseam, Florida

    Changing the Electoral College would be like trying to change the BCS of College Football. Wishful thinking, but it will not happen.

    March 27, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. Sarge

    Should we also do away with the Senate? It gives the same number of votes to all states regardless of size or population.

    March 27, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. Eric

    Many people arguing against this will say that it's unfair to abolish the electoral college because it will give states like CA, FL, and NY too much control since they have such a large percentage of the population. Please tell me why this is a problem? This proposed system will basically remove the notion of State's rights and be more democratic system. I'm sorry, but why shouldn't majority rule?

    This law, like many others was created during a much different time in our history. We need the people to stand up along with brave politicians to modify our system and get rid of the old, outdated laws.

    I completely agree with Bill Nelson. Get rid of the Electoral College!

    March 27, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  23. Marie, Los Angeles, CA


    March 27, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  24. A REAL American

    Oh, Herman, stop playing the victim!! The comment about the Masters extending the course to stop Tiger Woods is especially ridiculous.

    Regarding this issue, many folks here are wrong–"one man, one vote" sounds great in theory, but so does communism. If the College was scrapped, this country would be practically held hostage by the urban liberals living in places such as NYC and LA. No way in hell should that happen!

    March 27, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. Ryan from New Mexico

    Liberals SUCK, their taking down my Democratic Party

    they obviously havent won the White House since Kennedy ran for President

    Liberals need to start their own Political Party and Leave the Democratic Party Alone

    March 27, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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