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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Mauro speaks out against effort to abandon electoral college

By Jason Hancock | 03.03.09 | 5:05 pm

A bill passed last week by a Senate committee that would allocate Iowa’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote would have a detrimental effect on the Hawkeye State, Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro said today.

Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro

Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro

“I caution lawmakers in leading a charge to adopt a resolution that could be detrimental to Iowa and our important role in choosing the President of the United States,” Mauro, a Democrat from Des Moines, said in a statement. “Our nation’s current Electoral College system was created to protect less populated states like Iowa to ensure we were included in the process.”

The National Popular Vote Act is part of a movement to break from the Electoral College system. If passed, Iowa’s seven electoral votes would be given to the presidential candidate who garnered the most votes nationwide, regardless of the outcome in Iowa. However, that wouldn’t take effect until it passed in enough states to equal 270 electoral votes, the number needed to be elected president. At least two states — New Jersey and Maryland — have already entered the compact.

Republicans have come out strongly against the plan, calling it the “Iowa Voter Irrelevancy Act.” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn, along with county chairs from around the state, held a rally today calling on legislators to abandon the plan.

Critics of the bill also believe if voters want to end the Electoral College system they should go through the lengthy process of amending the U.S. Constitution.

Supporters of the bill say Iowa’s influence is during the Caucuses, which would not be impacted at all by this legislation. They also contend that because Democrats currently hold a sizable voter registration edge in Iowa, the state would  likely to be ignored in future presidential campaigns anyway, with candidates focusing on those states considered “battlegrounds.”

Support for such a move has been building nationally since 2000, when Republican George W. Bush became president despite losing the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore.

Mauro is the first high-profile Iowa Democrat to speak out against the bill.

“I believe if this were to play out, it would have a dramatic effect,” he said. “Under this proposal, it is hard to foresee Iowa maintaining its dominant role and expect candidates to spend their final hours campaigning in our state when they will be focused on capturing the popular vote in much larger states.”

Democratic leaders in the Senate have said they believes there is broad support for the measure. Senate President Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg, was one of eight senators to vote the bill out of committee.

Follow Jason Hancock on Twitter


Comments

  • mvy

    The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
    Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

    In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

  • mvy

    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 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 1,246 state legislators — 460 sponsors (in 48 states) and an additional 786 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    The National Popular Vote bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Miami Herald, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sacramento Bee, The Tennessean, Fayetteville Observer, Anderson Herald Bulletin, Wichita Falls Times, The Columbian, and other newspapers. The bill has been endorsed by Common Cause, Fair Vote, and numerous other organizations.

    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 — 71%, 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 — 73% , Massachusetts — 73%, New York — 79%, and Washington — 77%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 23 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  • mvy

    What the Founding Fathers said in the U.S. Constitution is “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, that the voters may vote and the 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, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote, and only 3 states used the winner-take-all rule (awarding all of a state's electoral vote to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state). Since then, as a result of changes in state laws, 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 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 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.

  • mvy

    75% OF IOWA VOTERS FAVOR A NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE FOR PRESIDENT

    A survey of 800 Iowa voters showed 75% overall support for a national popular vote for President. The question was “How do you think we should elect the President when we vote in the November general election: should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current electoral college system?

    By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote for President was 82% among Democrats, 63% among Republicans, and 77% among others.

    By age, support was 76% among 18-29 year olds, 65% among 30-45 year olds, 76% among 46-65 year olds, and 80% for those older than 65.

    By gender, support was 82% among women and 67% among men.

    By race, support was 75% among whites (representing 93% of respondents), 65% among African Americans (representing 2% of respondents), 86% among Hispanics (representing 1% of respondents), and 58% among others (representing 4% of respondents).

    The survey was conducted on February 17-18, 2009, by Public Policy Polling.

    see http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  • mvy

    The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically “radioactive” in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

    As of 2008, the National Popular Vote bill has been approved by a total of seven state legislative chambers in small states, including one house in Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

    Most of the medium-small states (with five or six electoral votes) are non-competitive in presidential elections (and therefore disadvantaged). In fact, of the 22 medium-smallest states (those with three, four, five, or six electoral votes), only New Hampshire (with four electoral votes), New Mexico (five electoral votes), and Nevada (five electoral votes) have been battleground states in recent elections.

    Because so few of the 22 small and medium-small states are closely divided battleground states in presidential elections, the current system actually shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in a handful of big states. The New York Times reported early in 2008 (May 11, 2008) that both major political parties were already in agreement that there would be at most 14 battleground states in 2008 (involving only 166 of the 538 electoral votes). In other words, three-quarters of the states were ignored under the current system in the 2008 election. Michigan (17 electoral votes), Ohio (20), Pennsylvania (21), and Florida (27) contain over half of the electoral votes that mattered in 2008 (85 of the 166 electoral votes). There were only three battleground states among the 22 small and medium-small states (i.e., New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada). These three states contain only 14 of the 166 electoral votes. Anyone concerned about the relative power of big states and small states should realize that the current system shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in a handful of big states.

    Recent polls show a high level of support for a nationwide election for President in, for example, Vermont (75%), Maine (71%), Rhode Island (74%), Kentucky (80%), Oregon (76%), Washington (77%), North Carolina (74%), and Arkansas (80%). More than 70% of the American people have favored a nationwide election for President since the Gallup poll started asking this question in 1944. The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This recent national result is similar to recent statewide polls in California (69%), Connecticut (73%), Massachusetts (73%), Michigan (70%), and Missouri (70%).

  • mvy

    The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and that a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states — that is, a mere 26% of the nation’s votes.

    Of course, the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely act in concert on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red” states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

    Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
    * Texas (62% Republican),
    * New York (59% Democratic),
    * Georgia (58% Republican),
    * North Carolina (56% Republican),
    * Illinois (55% Democratic),
    * California (55% Democratic), and
    * New Jersey (53% Democratic).

    In addition, the margins generated by the nation’s largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
    * Texas — 1,691,267 Republican
    * New York — 1,192,436 Democratic
    * Georgia — 544,634 Republican
    * North Carolina — 426,778 Republican
    * Illinois — 513,342 Democratic
    * California — 1,023,560 Democratic
    * New Jersey — 211,826 Democratic

    To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 votes for Bush in 2004.

  • mvy

    Evidence of the way a nationwide presidential campaign would be run comes from the way that national advertisers conduct nationwide sales campaigns. National advertisers seek out customers in small, medium, and large towns of every small, medium, and large state. National advertisers do not advertise only in big cities. Instead, they go after every single possible customer, regardless of where the customer is located. National advertisers do not write off Indiana or Illinois merely because their competitor has an 8% lead in sales in those states. And, a national advertiser with an 8%-edge over its competitor does not stop trying to make additional sales in Indiana or Illinois merely because they are in the lead.

  • Daddyfats61

    Mr. Mauro is wrong “WE THE PEOPLE”are suppose to decide who is President by a majority vote .The DNC nor the RNC should have the final decision.Also Iowa's caucus system is flawed we need to change to a primary system.A Vote is a private matter and not open for discussion or badgering as with our last democratic Presidential caucus's in 08.Also Iowans should be able to cast a write in ballot for the primary system OR the caucus system,Especially those of us who are older and unable to get out to the polls.Even when rides are offered its very difficult for an older person to go out in bad weather.

  • Daddyfats61

    Mr. Mauro is wrong “WE THE PEOPLE”are suppose to decide who is President by a majority vote .The DNC nor the RNC should have the final decision.Also Iowa's caucus system is flawed we need to change to a primary system.A Vote is a private matter and not open for discussion or badgering as with our last democratic Presidential caucus's in 08.Also Iowans should be able to cast a write in ballot for the primary system OR the caucus system,Especially those of us who are older and unable to get out to the polls.Even when rides are offered its very difficult for an older person to go out in bad weather.

  • Daddyfats61

    Mr. Mauro is wrong “WE THE PEOPLE”are suppose to decide who is President by a majority vote .The DNC nor the RNC should have the final decision.Also Iowa's caucus system is flawed we need to change to a primary system.A Vote is a private matter and not open for discussion or badgering as with our last democratic Presidential caucus's in 08.Also Iowans should be able to cast a write in ballot for the primary system OR the caucus system,Especially those of us who are older and unable to get out to the polls.Even when rides are offered its very difficult for an older person to go out in bad weather.

  • jimhardy

    You can't just cancel the constitution outright so just dismantle it piecemeal?
    Pure chicanery .

    Electoral college is there for a real important reason.

    Hooray for Mr Mauro.

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