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    • In the requested proposals to be included in the $2 trillion package that passed last week were reforms to make it easier for US citizens to vote. Of course, these proposals were shot down and never made it into the passed bill. There’s always been accusations that both parties engage in practices to distort voting when it serves their purposes. A familiar quote from a Republican elite:

      “I don’t want everybody to vote,” Paul Weyrich, an influential conservative activist, said in 1980. “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

      It is rare, however, for an elected official to admit this on camera.

      Yesterday, the President admitted on Fox & Friends that voter suppression benefits Republicans.

      The president made the comments as he dismissed a Democratic-led push for reforms such as vote-by-mail, same-day registration and early voting as states seek to safely run elections amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

      “The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. “They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of clawbacks.

    • In response to your earlier question, Dave, about why, in the United States, can someone become president when their opponent received the majority of votes?

      Legacy laws remain when they benefit the group in power.

      @Shewmaker can speak more accurately and nuanced to America’s history but here’s a basic explanation. When the United States was formed, there were huge differences in the interests of States, mainly over those who were dependent on slavery for their economic prosperity, such as South Carolina, and those that were not, such as the state of New York. Consequently, the states that shared similar interests, such as the South, did not want to be overruled if the other states had a much larger population.

      Thus was created the Electoral College. Under it, a state can have more voting power than its population should have in a purely majority wins election system. Why? Because in the 18th and 19th Century it mattered a great deal to the South who ran the country.

      There is no longer a need for our Electoral College voting system to elect a president.

      But it would take enormous bipartisan support to change our Constitution to get rid of it. And when one party benefits from the status quo, change isn’t likely.

      End of US Civics lesson.

    • It's also possible in the Canadian and, I think, British, parliamentary system for a party to win in spite of having having fewer votes. This is because each MP is elected in a riding (some of which have fewer votes than others) and nothing is decided nationally. The party that wins the most ridings wins the election, and their leader becomes the PM. So if a party wins 51% of the vote in 51% of the ridings, and 0% of the vote in the others, they can still win the election.

      This is pretty rare in practice, though.

      There has been a fair amount of talk about implementing proportional representation, but there's doesn't seem to be that much appetite for it, publicly. In fact, British Columbia held a referendum on the matter for their provincial assembly and the people voted to keep the existing system. The main defence I see for the current system is that 'it works and people understand it'. It does make it a lot harder for minority parties like the Greens to get seats, but that's not necessarily seen as a bad thing - few people up here want a system with a bunch of minority parties forming complicated coalitions like they have in Italy.

      But yeah - changing the photo would be a +, @StephenL

    • Interesting. I wasn’t aware that this is how Canada elected Trudeau. Is the Leader always selected from among the current MPs, or could it be an ex-politician like Biden, or a current governor of a province?

      And do you know as a voter going into the election who each party’s Leader is? Or could they decide to make any random Bob their leader, and the PM, after the election?


    • Thank you for pointing out the way the parlimentary system works.

      One of the reasons that the Scots, the Welsh, the Cornish, etc. put up with the UK system is that the popular vote system that @StephenL keeps advocating has not been instituted in the UK.

      The number of times that an American has won the presidency without also winning the popular vote is also comparatively small.

      @StephenL's system would make the very dense and populous states very happy, but it would lead to discontent, frustration, anger, and downright revolt from the less populated states as they found themselves marginalized by the populous states.

      Anyone who thinks "Cider House Rules" was on target when it comes to who makes the rules, should understand that having the cities order the rural states around is the very idea that was opposed in "Cider House Rules."

    • The party leaders are usually decided long before an election - they perform an important function as the voice of the opposition. The leader of the party with the second most elected MPs is the 'Leader of the Opposition':

      The Leader of the Opposition is entitled to the same levels of pay and protection as a Cabinet minister and is often made a member of the Canadian Privy Council,
      generally the only non-government member of the House of Commons
      afforded that privilege. He or she is entitled to reside at the official
      residence of Stornoway and ranks fourteenth on the Order of Precedence, after Cabinet ministers and before lieutenant governors of the provinces. In the House of Commons seating plan, the Leader of the Opposition sits directly across from the Prime Minister.

      Other party leaders are also important voices for their parties between elections.

      Usually, the party leader is well established before election time, but it's possible to change leader during an election at the last minute (this actually happened with the Conservatives in the last Ontario provincial election, and it turned them from losers into winners). But often the leaders are well known and continue to lead their parties through several election cycles.

      Leaders aren't always MPs when they're elected, but they are always members of the party. There have been times when a party leader hasn't been an MP and so can't sit in the House - they need to be represented there by a deputy. I doubt that's ever happened with the party in power, but it happens sometimes with the lower ranked parties.

      And party leaders still need to win in their own riding in order to sit in the house. If a sitting leader fails to win in their riding, well, that's usually the time for them to turn over the keys.

      Also, sitting MPs can change party after an election, or leave a party and become an independent. This is one of the checks and balances on the Prime Minister.

      Not all parliamentary systems work this way - most European parliaments have proportional representation where the amount of sitting MPs from each party reflects the popular vote they received. But if you have 10 or 15 parties, that can look like chaos.