Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trying to Abolish the Electoral College

A well financed group of political busybodies is trying to change our United States Constitution by unconstitutional means, that is, without amending the Constitution in the proper way. These people don't like the way the Constitution provides for electing our Presidents by the Electoral College, and they want to abolish it in a very devious way. These people call themselves the National Popular Vote project. Their plan is to get state legislatures to pass laws promising that, in the next presidential election, the legislators will ignore how their own state voted, decide which candidate they think has the most votes nationwide, and then order their state's electors to vote for that candidate. In other words, they would steal votes away from some candidates and transfer those votes to another candidate. That would be vote-stealing on a massive scale.

The Electoral College is a vital part of our constitutional system of federalism. It is a process that respects both the states and the people. It is grounded in the same brilliant compromise that gave us the U.S. Congress, with one House based on population and the other House representing the states. The Electoral College respects the fact that we are both a nation of "We the People" and also a nation of 50 sovereign states.

The Electoral College has served us well for more than two centuries and there is every reason to believe it can continue to serve us for the next century. It has allowed peaceful transfers of power from one party to another time and time again.

Unfortunately, several states have already passed this mischievous plan called National Popular Vote. If it comes up in your state, I hope you will tell your state legislators to vote No. In the words of the old adage, if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.

Listen to this commentary:


Lars said...

The national popular vote plan is constitutional, maintains the Electoral College and follows historical precedent,

The Founding Fathers entrusted state legislators with the sole authority regarding how states can allocate their electoral votes (Art. II, Sec. 1). The national popular vote proposal preserves that power and encourages state legislatures to utilize it to make their constituents and states relevant in presidential campaigns. Employing the powers enumerating by the Founding Fathers is not only constitutional, it is the responsibility of state legislators.

The national popular vote plan maintains the Electoral College and the valuable role it plays. Currently, and for more than 200 years, the Electoral College has never exercised any independent judgment on who should be President. The national popular vote plan doesn’t change that. Rather than acting as a rubber stamp for the votes of the 50 states, the Electoral College, under the national popular vote plan, would reflect the votes of every single voter and make sure that the candidate with the most popular votes receives a majority of the Electoral College.

State action, and not amending the Constitution, is the way that election changes have been made throughout our history. The precious right to vote for President is not found in the Constitution. We are able to cast votes for President because each of the 50 states has passed a state law giving us that right (DC as well). There was no constitutional amendment to give the people the right to vote. There was no constitutional amendment to remove the requirement that one own property prior to voting. Again, state laws removed those restrictions.

Lastly, I respectfully disagree that the Electoral College has served us well. While we have always had orderly transitions of power, I do not attribute that to the Electoral College alone, but rather to our entire system of government, our respect for the rule of law, and our hard fought political culture.

The Electoral College has let us down because it does not treat each of us equally. It has resulted in a gravely flawed system whereby presidential campaigns only respect and pay attention to a fraction of the voters in our country. I live in the safe Republican state of Oklahoma. As such, I am ignored during the campaign while candidates from both parties shill and promise the world to the voters in battleground states like Florida and Ohio.

It is this inequality that I cannot stand. I believe in this country. I believe in the simple notion that the candidate with the most votes should win an election. I support a national popular vote for President.

thefounderswereright said...

I generally support the Eagle Forum in their pro-family, pro-life, pro-freedom positions, but I believe you got this one wrong. National Popular Vote is good for conservatives and libertarians in that ALL of our pro-family votes will be courted and counted when electing the leader of the free vote. A conservative vote in Kansas, or North Dakota, or California, or Massachusetts, or Minnesota, or any of the other "fly-over" states will be courted as much as a "moderate/independent vote" in battleground Ohio. Furthermore, the National Popular Vote agreement honors the Constitution by preserving the exclusive rights of the states to allocate Electors. National Popular Vote is good politics and sound policy if you are a strict constructionist and a true believer in conservative ideology. Don't be afraid. Support the National Popular Vote.

Jack said...

I almost always agree with the Eagle Forum, but I think you got this one wrong. Family values voters like myself are routinely taken for granted in presidential campaigns. The candidates know how we are going to vote so there is no need to pay attention to us. They move on to so called swing voters and promise them the world. If our votes in every state mattered, they would have to address our issues and make promises to us. That will make this a better country.

Also, I was concerned about this potential for vote stealing. In looking at the plan, there is no vote stealing or transferring or any other electoral mischief in this proposal.

It could not be more straightforward. You vote for the candidate you support and your vote gets counted for that candidate. At the end, the candidate with the most votes in all 50 states gets elected.

I personally am more concerned with my vote counting and mattering than I am with how my state votes. I wasn’t happy with the 2008 election results. Sure, my candidate won my home state of Oklahoma, but he lost what really mattered, the White House. Under a national popular vote, every vote in every state counts equally. That is what this country is all about.

Anonymous said...

How does this plan stop candidates from concentrating their efforts in the most populous states on each coast, thereby still neglecting us voters in the Heartland?

As I understand it, the result in the last presidential election would have been that all of Oklahoma's electoral votes would have gone to Obama, the national popular vote winner, even though the Republican slate carried all 77 counties in the popular vote. How would that have made my vote count?

Roger said...

You're right, Anonymous, under the NPV plan Oklahoma would be ignored.

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