“National Popular Vote” Schemes to Bypass Constitution

Moving quietly under the cover of the presidential debates and the enormous publicity given to the Republican nomination race is a plan to change how U.S. presidents are elected. It would bypass the procedure spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, which has been used successfully for over two centuries.

The Constitution prescribes how we elect our presidents. It is a mirror image of the Great Compromise. Designed by the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the Great Compromise brought together the large and small states by means of a national Congress, with the House of Representatives based on population and the Senate based on state sovereignty.

Likewise, when the presidential electors meet in gatherings known as the Electoral College, each state’s vote is equal to the sum of its House and Senate representation in Congress. Our Founding Fathers understood that America is a nation of both “we the people” and a federal system of states, so it allows all states, regardless of size, to be players in electing our president.

The plan to change this system is called the National Popular Vote. It obviously has a lot of money behind it because it is sending highly paid lobbyists around the country to persuade state legislatures to adopt the NPV plan.

NPV is an attempt to achieve the longtime liberal goal of getting rid of the Electoral College. Instead of proposing an amendment that would first need to be passed by Congress and then ratified by three-fourths of the states (38), NPV is a scheme to deviously bypass the grand design of our U.S. Constitution.

NPV lobbyists are trying to get state legislatures to enact identical bills requiring their own state’s presidential electors to ignore the winner of their state’s presidential election. Instead, all their state’s votes go towards the candidate whom the politicians estimate received the most popular votes nationwide. That candidate would not need a majority or any certain threshold—just more votes than any other candidate (i.e., a plurality).

The NPV campaign lets people believe that NPV will elect presidents who win the majority of popular votes, but that is false. Because of third parties, we’ve had many elections (including three of the last five) when no presidential candidate received a popular-vote majority. Abraham Lincoln won with less than 40 percent of the popular vote, and only by our Electoral College system was he elected president.

If the NPV lobbyists can get enough states whose votes in the Electoral College total at least 270, they will be able to steal votes away from some candidates, transfer those votes to another candidate and thereby construct a fake majority in the Electoral College.

Eight states and the District of Columbia (with 132 electoral votes; half of the 270 needed) have already joined this NPV “compact” to “activate” NPV: Vermont 3, Maryland 10, Washington 12, Illinois 20, New Jersey 14, District of Columbia 3, Massachusetts 11, California 55 and Hawaii 4.

The NPV slogan “Every Vote Equal” is dishonest because the NPV proposal is based on legalizing vote-stealing. For example, Texas or Louisiana could be forced to cast its votes for a candidate who won more votes in other states, such as New York.

If NPV had been in effect in the year 2000, Al Gore would have become president instead of George W. Bush because Gore received more votes than Bush. It’s a mystery how any Republican could support NPV, and it’s no surprise that the Republican National Committee voted unanimously to oppose NPV because members saw it as unconstitutional and unworkable.

Remember our national trauma as we suffered through recounts in Florida where the margin between Bush and Gore was only about 500 votes? If the election is based on the national popular vote and it’s close, NPV would induce recounts in many or most of the 50 states.

Mexico uses a national popular vote system, and it’s a good illustration of why we don’t want it here. In Mexico’s last presidential election, the candidate with the “most votes” received 35.89 percent, while his closest rival got 35.31 percent — a margin of just one-half of one percent. In the months that followed, Mexico was on the verge of civil war as the runner-up held mass rallies attracting millions of his angry supporters.

People who pretend that the Electoral College system is undemocratic are not only ignorant of the history and purposes of the U.S. Constitution, but they probably don’t even understand baseball. Basing the election on a plurality of the popular vote while ignoring the states would be like the New York Yankees claiming they won the 1960 World Series because they outscored the Pirates in runs 55-27 and in hits 91-60. Yet, the Pirates fairly won that World Series, 4 games to 3, and no one challenges their victory.

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  • ggroebner

    Generally speaking, voting reform in the USA should begin with a dramatic restriction on who is eligible to vote. As it stands now, voting is simply a tool to manipulate and divide, while getting everyone’s hands “dirty” so that, psychologically, all potential opposition is co-opted and made part of the system. On the part of the ruling class, it is not a bad idea at all, but from the perspective of the general welfare, it doesn’t bear good fruit.
    I think it would be better if voting were restricted to only groups that are stable in outlook and have a demonstrable claim that they have something at stake; land-holders, veterans, and elders.

  • kohler

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in more than 2/3rds of the states that are just ‘spectators’ and ignored.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%,, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    NationalPopularVote

  • wgsullivan

    So in a lesser populated state our votes will never be a player. Our votes will never weigh in against the higher populated states that don’t have much in common with states that provide their food and have vastly different morals (i.e. common sense).
    If a rural state has shown favor with the Popular Vote push they are being hood-winked and need to wise up.

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