The Electoral College was developed by our founding fathers and enshrined in the Constitution as a system of checks and balances to ensure a fair outcome in the choosing of our presidents.
However, the highly publicized 2000 presidential election, in which Al Gore may have won the popular vote but lost the contest to George W. Bush, galvanized those who wish to see the Electoral College scrapped in favor of a national popular vote.
Come hear our panel of distinguished experts discuss the merits and pitfalls of the two systems, and the wisdom of moving from a tried and true process to something new- The Commonwealth Club of California
John R. Koza
John R. Koza received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Michigan in 1972. He published a board game involving Electoral College strategy in 1966. From 1973 through 1987, he was co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Scientific Games Inc. where he co-invented the rub-off instant lottery ticket used by state lotteries. In the 1980s, he and attorney Barry Fadem were active in promoting adoption of lotteries by various states through the citizen-initiative process and state legislative action. He has taught a course on genetic algorithms and genetic programming at Stanford University since 1988. He is currently a consulting professor in the Biomedical Informatics Program in the Department of Medicine and in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. He is co-author of the book Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote with Barry Fadem, Mark Grueskin, Michael S. Mandell, Robert Richie, and Joseph F. Zimmerman.
Daniel Lowenstein teaches Election Law, Statutory Interpretation & Legislative Process, Political Theory, and Law & Literature.
A leading expert on election law, he has represented members of the House of Representatives in litigation regarding reapportionment and the constitutionality of term limits. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the award-winning theatre troupe Interact and regularly brings the company to the School of Law to perform plays with legal themes, such as Sophocles' Antigone, Ibsen's Rosmerholm, and Wouk's The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.
Professor Lowenstein worked as a staff attorney at California Rural Legal Assistance for two and one-half years.
While working for California's Secretary of State, Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 1971, he specialized in election law, and was the main drafter of the Political Reform Act, an initiative statute that California voters approved in 1974, thereby creating a new Fair Political Practices Commission.
Governor Brown appointed Professor Lowenstein as first chairman of the Commission. He has served on the national governing board of Common Cause and has been a board member and a vice president of Americans
Doug Sovern began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then moved to California to play in a rock band. After hundreds of gigs and one indie album failed to make him a rock star, Doug returned to journalism, working for Associated Press Radio and San Francisco station K-101.
He worked briefly at KGO before joining KCBS in 1990. Sovern has won more than 125 broadcast journalism awards, including national honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, the RTNDA/Edward R. Murrow awards, and the National Headliner Awards. He was the first three-time winner of the AP's Reporter of the Year Award for California/Nevada, honored in 1999, 2003 and 2004.
Clyde Spillenger currently teaches Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, and American Legal History.
In law school, he wrote articles and commentary editor of the Yale Law and Policy Review. After graduation, he served as consultant to the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project in New York and was an associate with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Powell, Goldstein, Frazer and Murphy.
Before joining the UCLA faculty, Professor Spillenger was a fellow in American Legal History at the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Believing he is really a jazz guitarist in a law professor's body, he is a founding member of The Usual Suspects, the faculty's rock 'n' roll trio.
Professor Spillenger's principal research interest is in American legal and constitutional history. Of particular note are his articles in the Yale Law Journal and the Journal of American History on Louis D. Brandeis.
UCLA Law professor Daniel Lowenstein provides five inconceivable reasons to defend the Electoral College, including that the system creates majorities in states that would not exist in the popular vote.
Lowenstein says a little known fact is that "Clinton never got anywhere close to a majority in the popular vote."
A panel consisting of John Koza, co-founder of the National Popular Vote Bill, and UCLA law professor Dan Lowenstein debate the constitutionality of changing the role of the Electoral College in electing the President of the United States.