Don’t monkey around with Electoral College

Democrats in New Mexico and Colorado are trying to tinker with the Electoral College in a way that makes me nervous.

They want to pledge their states’ 14 electoral votes to whoever wins the most votes in presidential election. They are upset that in the past five presidential election cycles, the Democratic nominee has won more votes than the Republican nominee, but lost the election because the GOP candidate got more Electoral College votes than the Democrat.

See George W. Bush-Al Gore in 2000 and Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Look, I remain a supporter of the Electoral College. It was designed by the nation’s founders to spread the political power around to more states and to ensure that smaller states had sufficient voice in electing presidents as the larger states.

Indeed, this push is coming almost entirely from Democratic politicians who feel aggrieved over the outcome of those two aforementioned elections.

If we’re going to change the way we elect our presidents, I prefer a wholesale change. Ditch the Electoral College and go to a system that elects presidents solely on the basis of who gets more votes on Election Day.

I get that Hillary Clinton got nearly 3 million more votes than Donald Trump in 2016. But the GOP candidate, Trump, managed to squeak out a win by visiting key Rust Belt states that Clinton seemingly took for granted; she thought she had them in the bag, but it turned out they were placed in Trump’s bag.

This monkeying around with an electoral system that has worked by and large quite well over the span of the Republic is just — as the saying goes — a bit too cute by half.

 

One thought on “Don’t monkey around with Electoral College”

  1. Anyone who supports the current presidential election system, believing it is what the Founders intended and that it is in the Constitution, is mistaken. The current presidential election system does not function, at all, the way that the Founders thought that it would.

    Supporters of National Popular Vote find it hard to believe the Founding Fathers would endorse the current electoral system where 38+ states and voters now are completely politically irrelevant.
    10 of the original 13 states are politically irrelevant now.

    The Founders created the Electoral College, but 48 states eventually enacted state winner-take-all laws.

    Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1
    “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”
    The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors by appointment by the legislature or by the governor and his cabinet, the people had no vote for President in most states, and in states where there was a popular vote, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

    The current winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the Constitutional Convention. It is not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was not the Founders’ choice. It was used by only three states in 1789, and all three of them repealed it by 1800. It is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method. The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes became dominant only in the 1880s after the states adopted it, one-by-one, in order to maximize the power of the party in power in each state. . The Founders had been dead for decades

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state’s electoral votes.

    States have the responsibility and constitutional power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond. Now, 38 states, of all sizes, and their voters, because they vote predictably, are politically irrelevant in presidential elections.

    The National Popular Vote bill is 64% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency in 2020 to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

    All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.

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