Skip to comments.Popular Nonsense. An unfair and ill-conceived attempt to ditch the Electoral College.
Posted on 04/19/2006 5:32:15 AM PDT by .cnI redruM
Opponents of the Electoral College have conjured up yet another scheme by which they hope to undermine America's unique system of electing presidents. If they are successful, the Electoral College could essentially be eliminated at the behest of a handful of states, without the bother of a constitutional amendment.
As Ronald Reagan might say, "There they go again!"
This latest anti-Electoral College effort, the Campaign for the National Popular Vote, was announced on February 23. Five states are currently considering the NPV plan: Illinois, Colorado, Missouri, California, and Louisiana. The Colorado state senate acted on the bill quickly, approving it on April 14.
If enacted, the NPV bill would create an interstate compact among consenting states. Each participating state would agree to allocate its entire slate of electors to the winner of the national popular vote. The compact would go into effect when states representing 270 electoral votes (enough to win the presidency) have agreed to the compact. The eleven most populous states have 271 electoral votes among them, and could thus make this change on their own. If one populous state failed to enact the plan, it could easily be replaced by a handful of medium-sized states.
NPV touts the ease of this change as one of the plan's best features. Electoral College opponents have tried and failed many times in their efforts to obtain a constitutional amendment. Such a process requires the consent of two thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states. It's much easier to obtain the consent of a mere eleven states. And if eleven states get to change the rules of the presidential-election game, without so much as a nod to the remaining thirty-nine states, then why should NPV supporters care? After all, presidential elections can already be won with the votes of only eleven states. So any unfairness in the NPV plan merely reflects the inherent unfairness of the Electoral College system.
It is true that America's presidential-election system technically could allow the eleven largest states to pick the president. But the incentives inherent in the Electoral College work in the opposite direction, making such an outcome extremely unlikely. The Electoral College encourages presidential candidates to build national coalitions of voters. The compromises that a presidential candidate would have to make to obtain the votes of, say, California and Texas, guarantee that any candidate who manages to obtain the votes of the eleven largest states will also obtain the votes of a majority of states. The last presidential candidate to accomplish this feat was Reagan in 1984, and he obtained the votes of every state except Minnesota. (He also lost the District of Columbia.)
NPV's legislation, on the other hand, does not ensure national coalition building. To the contrary, the proposal gives the eleven largest states incentives to work against the remaining states: Getting rid of the Electoral College would allow presidential candidates to win with positions that are not at all in the interest of less populous states. To be sure, and as NPV points out, candidates now focus largely on battleground states, but the only reason other states aren't battlegrounds is because they are, by and large, happy with one of the candidates positions. Moreover, so-called "safe" and "swing" states change constantly. As recently as 1988, California voted consistently Republican. Texas was a safe Democrat state until it began voting Republican in 1980.
Proponents of national presidential elections point out that the president almost always wins the popular vote anyway. But the question is how these votes were won. Changing the system would change the way in which presidential candidates campaign. NPV proponents make much of their slogan "Every Vote Equal." It's a nice sounding slogan which appeals to a sense of fairness. But if every vote counted exactly the same, the system would end up being quite unfair to the less populous states. The true question here is whether the nation should vote in a state-by-state presidential election or a national presidential election. Changing from one process to the other would have significant ramifications.
John F. Kennedy once stated that America's presidential election system is like a solar system of governmental power. If one aspect of the solar system is changed, others will inevitably be impacted. If the gravitational pull of the sun is changed, then the Earth will be pulled out of its orbit. In the same way, if the Electoral College is removed from the nation's system of electing presidents, then other aspects of the political system will inevitably change. For example, the two-party political system will likely be seriously undermined. Also, presidential candidates will have less incentive to build national coalitions, and they will instead campaign primarily in high population areas.
If NPV succeeds in passing its legislation, citizens living in a majority of states will likely have been denied the opportunity to have a say in the decision about whether America will live in this political solar system or a new one. If getting rid of the Electoral College is such a great idea, then why do its proponents seem to want to bypass the people in enacting it? If it is such a great idea, and one that will serve our interests, why not go national with their case? Apparently they're not so into voting after all.
Democrats in ACTION:
This must be plan B....
Plan A is to 'legalize' the votes of illegals and felons.
The Electoral College will always be a thorn in Gore's side that will never heal.
This change would essentially hand over the reins of power to the large urban states and leave the smaller rural states out in the cold. There's a problem with this scenario though. Lets say one of the states that signs this compact goes heavily in favor of candidate A in the election and candidate B wins the national popular vote. If the state is governed by candidate A's party do you think they will abide by the pact and turn over their electoral votes to the other party's candidate? I don't.
Mental deficients and total ignoramuses started to invade Congress in the seventies and they have become even inferior since then.
Seems to me that few brain cells are needed to realize that the first step necessary is to verify, once again, that a "compact between states" which frustrates or invalidates a Constitutional provision is invalid.
Last time it was tried, more Americans died than in all other wars since then, combined.
But I suppose, like the hapless muslims, the jackasses have to keep trying.
I propose a Constitutional amendment to add a qualification to serve in the Senate and in the House: an IQ over 70...
Why don't they just admit that they don't want an election, they just want what they want.
This would be another step toward anarchy. The "popular vote" for president should be abolished.
It would be fun to see if this works as well as even, say,t he gang of 14 in the US Senate.
And that is exactly who is trying ... those represented by the jackass. How appropiate that they should use one for their logo
You mean large urban welfare recipients
The NRA supports the other side. Firepower always makes tyrants at least put up a facade of public decency.
You are right, if it is not in their favor they will complain. It is funny how they come up with new ways to cheat. And still can't win...
This plan is 100% Constitutional... which is not the same thing as being a good idea.
The small states all get two Senators and that's is the rub for the liberals. In fact maybe the small states will have enough votes to pull out of this union that is coming apart anyway. Oh one can dream!
One argument this article ignores is the issue of federalism. The enactment of the 17th Amendment was the first step in chipping away at federalism and this new proposal almost completely destroys the notion of federalism. I like to think of the Constitution as a contract between three parties - the people, the states and the federal government. More and more, the states are being shoved out of any meaningful role not only in area of electral matters but in federal mandates requiring state actions and state spending. The concentration of power solely in the federal government is more dangerous than most people realize.
Ping for later.
It may just be my neighborhood (rather liberal), but I'm always having to explain the purpose of the electoral college to friends and neighbors. It's getting harder and harder to make them understand that a check on the wild impulses of democracy is in their best interest. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that it difficult to convince the majority that majoritarianism is dangerous. Especially one that's been fed a steady diet democratist propaganda for the past 100 years almost.
Before taking a decison on the merits of this article please review the USA Today County by County Voting Map for 2000 and 2004.
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