Electoral College

The Danger of the Attacks on the Electoral College

by Trent England,
from Imprimus,
June, 2019:
Once upon a time, the Electoral College was not controversial. But by the mid-twentieth century, opponents of the Electoral College nearly convinced Congress to propose an amendment to scrap it. And today, more than a dozen states have joined in an attempt to hijack the Electoral College as a way to force a national popular vote for president. What changed? Why not a national popular vote for president? It is easy for Americans to forget that when we vote for president, we are really voting for electors who have pledged to support the candidate we favor. Civics education is not what it used to be. Also, perhaps, the Electoral College is a victim of its own success. Most of the time, it shapes American politics in ways that are beneficial but hard to see. Its effects become news only when a candidate and his or her political party lose a hard-fought and narrowly decided election. So what are the beneficial effects of choosing our presidents through the Electoral College?
  • Presidential elections are decentralized
  • state boundaries function analogous to that of a watertight compartment on an ocean liner.
  • A powerful incentive against regionalism.
Would it really be better if the path to the presidency primarily meant driving up the vote total in the deepest red or blue states? Today Democrats say yes:
  • Hillary Clinton: "In a democracy, we should respect the will of the people..."
  • Eric Holder: "a vestige of the past"
  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee: "an archaic relic of a bygone age"
There is a serious threat today to the Electoral College. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPV) takes advantage of the flexibility granted to state legislatures in the Constitution. NPV would have the same effect as abolishing the Electoral College. Every state that joined the NPV has been heavily Democratic (including two 'purple states'). They control 189 electoral college votes. Why is this bad?
  • Election fraud would have only one recourse,
  • federal government intervention in elections,
  • nationwide recounts,
  • regionalism,
  • promote higher turnout, legal or not,
  • shifting power to urban centers (which helps only one party),
  • would state's trust other states power to verify their election returns?
  • uncertainty and litigation would follow.
Rather than building larger coalitions that could win in the Electoral College, today's Democrats would rather simply change the rules. But, NPV is probably unconstitutional as it ignores the will of the states people. The more fundamental danger is that these attacks undermine the Constitution as a whole. The measure of our fundamental law is not whether it actualizes the general will—that was the point of the French Revolution, not the American. The measure of our Constitution is whether it is effective at encouraging just, stable, and free government—government that protects the rights of its citizens. The Electoral College is effective at doing this. We need to preserve it, and we need to help our fellow Americans understand why it matters. More From Imprimus:

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