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Electoral college

The Michigan Capitol in Lansing.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Electors gathered today at their state capitols to formalize Donald Trump's election to the presidency. As expected, Michigan's 16 electors cast their votes for Donald Trump.

In the days leading up to today's vote, however, electors endured intense pressure from people around the country to vote against the President-Elect.

“They’ve been getting letters, lots of them, in the mail and emails,” said Detroit News Lansing reporter Chad Livengood. “One elector I talked to – Wyckham Seelig from the Ann Arbor area – he got over 62,000 emails over the last five weeks from people across the country trying to get him to change his vote and buck Donald Trump.”

A lot of attention is being paid today to the usually almost-anonymous job of being a presidential elector.

This afternoon at the state Capitol, in the state Senate chamber, Michigan’s 16 votes for president will be cast by presidential electors - one vote for every congressional district in the state, plus two at-large electors.

It’s a little-noted honor to be an elector. Typically, it’s held for party stalwarts looking to be a footnote to history.

I have been a staunch defender of the Electoral College, that quaint mechanism left over from the early days of the republic. You may well know how it works, though many people don’t.

When you voted for president last week, you in fact voted not for a candidate, but for a slate of sixteen people who pledge to vote for that candidate. The winning electors will drive to Lansing on December 19 and cast their votes in longhand as they would have done in 1792.


Cheyna Roth / MPRN

In this Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the results of Election 2016, now that the dust has had time to settle.


Use NPR's new elections simulator tool to see what demographic shifts could help or hurt Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this November.
Colleen P / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It would take a major swing in voter demographics to turn Michigan red in the upcoming presidential election, according to a new tool developed by NPR.

The 270 Project, which maps likely state-level winners based on the demographics and turnout rates of voters, allows election junkies to sketch out November's presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump by playing with five different margins of victory and turnout rates in various demographics: white male, white female, Black, Hispanic, and the rest of the electorate. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A bill that would change how Michigan allocates its electoral college votes is back in the mix in Lansing.

Republican state representatives Cindy Gamrat, Todd Courser, Thomas Hooker, and Gary Glenn introduced the bill this week.

It proposes that each of the state’s 14 Congressional districts gets one electoral vote — with the two remaining votes going to the statewide winner.

Currently, nine of those 14 districts lean Republican.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING   (AP) - Michigan Republicans are exploring whether to change the rules so their presidential candidate can net electoral votes without having to win the state's popular vote.

Legislation before the GOP-led Legislature would make Michigan the third - and by far the largest - state to move away from a winner-take-all system to one that allocates electoral votes proportionally. 

The Capital Dome in Lansing, Michigan.
Joe Dearman / Flickr

Each week, Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, join me to talk Michigan politics.

This week, we talked about a plan in the State House that would change how Michigan distributes its Electoral College votes.

You can listen to our conversation below.


US Supreme Court

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss a Michigan couple whose case could determine constitutional same-sex marriage rights, a challenge to Michigan’s right-to-work law, and a Republican-proposed plan for changes to the Electoral College.

Electoral College proposal comes in for criticism

Nov 17, 2014
State AG Bill Schuette wants to make sure no one can vote straight-ticket this November.
Personalincome.org - http://www.personalincome.org/vote/ / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A plan to change the way Michigan awards its electoral votes for president got largely panned at a state House hearing on Monday.

The legislation would award up to seven of the state’s 16 Electoral College votes to the presidential runner-up in Michigan. The number of votes they get would depend on how close the popular vote is.

picture of Michigan legislative chambers
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A state House panel is scheduled to meet Monday to consider changing the way Michigan awards its Electoral College votes for president.

Right now, the state assigns all of its 16 electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. A new Republican proposal would allow the runner-up to get up to seven of those votes – depending on how close the vote is.

“What this does is it says, if you want to do well in Michigan, you got to actually come here and talk about our issues,” said bill sponsor state Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Twp.

Our political system may be flawed, but one of the great things about it is that it provides for the peaceful passage of power. We sometimes forget how revolutionary that was.

The world marveled back in 1800 when President John Adams was defeated by Thomas Jefferson. Adams didn’t even think of trying to pull a coup or call out the army to hang on to power.  

He just left town and Jefferson, who had won more electoral votes than he had, took over.

That’s the way it has been ever since.


With money to fix roads hanging in the balance, presidential politics could stand in the way of the new trend of bipartisan action on big, controversial issues.

But, really, any notion that there’s a new era of bipartisanship at the state Capitol should be shelved, despite the Democratic and Republican coalitions in the Legislature that pushed through deals on increasing the minimum wage and the Detroit rescue package. And that’s because each was an anomaly that brought Democrats to the bargaining table in Republican-controlled Lansing.

When you break down the Detroit votes, for example, you see two very different pictures in the House and in the Senate. In the House, almost all the Republicans voted for the rescue. A few Democrats were the holdouts. In the Senate, Democrats made up the difference as most Republicans -- 16 out of 26 -- voted “no” on the main bills in the Detroit package.

What this says is the parameters of each deal were different (even when we’re talking about the exact same legislation) depending on whether it’s the House or the Senate.  For example, a larger proportion of the Republicans in the Senate have serious primaries.

We’re used to some level of dirty politics in our elections, even presidential elections  -- in fact, smears, nastiness and exaggeration have been around since the time of George Washington.

But we draw the line at trying to actually rig the election results. When the verdict is in, it’s in, and everybody accepts the result.

Except now certain Republicans around the country have a plan to rig presidential election results to virtually guarantee that any Republican would win the presidency, even if they really lost.

Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus has endorsed this plan, members of his party are actively pushing it in Pennsylvania, and Governor Snyder says it is worth thinking about in Michigan.  The truth is that it is not only unfair, but has the potential, if adopted, to make Michigan less relevant in presidential elections.