Sen. Nelson of Florida: The time for reform is now

Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat (and pro-Clinton delegate) of Florida, speaking today before his state’s legislature:

A year ago, you passed a bill to move Florida’s presidential primary to an early date on the national election calendar. Your thinking was to give our large and diverse state – a microcosm of America – more of a say in the selection of the presidential nominees.

And we all know what happened: Both national parties decided to punish Florida, because their rules reserved early presidential contests to a handful of other states.

Having failed to get an agreement on a mail-in re-vote, he is now proposing that his party:

divvy up the equivalent of half of Florida’s delegates from the Jan. 29 results. This is allowed by the Democratic rules and was done by the GOP. ((This seems like a reasonable idea to me, even as an Obama supporter, and even coming from a Clinton delegate. But what about Michigan? There, unlike Florida, Obama (and let’s not forget Edwards) were not on the ballot, and the turnout was minuscule.))

But he is thinking bigger:

If nothing else, this election has provided further evidence that our system is broken…

Last fall, I filed legislation in the U.S. Senate requiring that no vote for federal office be cast on a touch-screen voting machine starting in 2012. I also joined the senior senator from Michigan, Carl Levin, to propose a system of six rotating primaries from March to June in each presidential election year.

And very soon I will file a broader-based election-reform bill.

This new legislation will abolish the Electoral College and give citizens direct election of their president by popular vote. Additionally, six, rotating interregional primaries ((Not an idea I am fond of, but worth a look.)) will give large and small states a fair say in the nomination process. The legislation will establish early voting in every state. It will eliminate machines that don’t produce a voting paper trail. It will allow every qualified voter in every state to cast an absentee ballot, if they want. And it will give grants to states that develop mail-in balloting and secure Internet voting.

Naturally, that was me emphasizing the most important part. It has been a while since a Senator has raised this issue. It is about time.

Yet the more promising path than a bill in Congress (which, for the electoral college, would have to be a constitutional amendment) is one on which he missed an opportunity today: advocating that this own state’s legislature join the National Popular Vote compact.
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0 thoughts on “Sen. Nelson of Florida: The time for reform is now

  1. The American Prospect has an interesting interview with “Mr Super”, a DNC delegate who blogs anonymously at mrsuper.org. [*]. Eg:

    It’s not our [the party trustees’] role to create pressure. It is our role to make the will of the people more decisive than it may appear to be. So in other words, if Clinton were to pull out a razor-thin victory in delegates down the stretch, I think it would be the role of supers to move into her column and create that decisive spread. I’m using her just as an example, not to show preference.

    [*] Turns out the tinyurl is longer than the original URL for this site!

    [Well, so I embedded it. Inside the “” with a href=”[the url]” and than /a (also inside those brackets) after the text that one wants to appear as the hyperlink.–MSS]

  2. That is interesting, but the Bionic Man assumes that the candidate with the “razor thin” margin in delegates would be the one who represents “the will of the people.” Given the use of proportional representation, that is not likely. However, given the small district magnitudes and the seemingly random variation in procedures (e.g. caucus vs. primary) a reversal is possible. Then what do those super-smart delegates do in their infinite wisdom?

    Even more to the point, it seems to me that if the party had wanted a procedures for making “the will of the people more decisive than it may appear to be,” it would not use PR in the first place. It would use a plurality allocation rule. Of course, in this contest, had it done that, it would have nominated the candidate with the second most votes cast!

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