Evan Bayh: Abolish Electoral College

Indiana senator Evan Bayh* was interviewed by a reporter from the News & Observer and made the statement that the Electoral College should be abolished, that the majority of the American people should choose the president.

Evan Bayh might as well have recommended abolishing the Senate. The Electoral College and the Senate were created for the express purpose of preserving states rights. Without them, small states would have no say in what laws are passed by the federal government or in who wins presidential elections. They would be ignored and trampled on by the larger states. Eliminating the Electoral College is a typical position taken by those politicians who favor an omnipotent federal government over states rights.

Without the Electoral College, small states would never see another presidential candidate again. Instead, the candidates would simply spit their time between the two coasts and large cities because that’s where the majority of Americans live. As a population, we would become more segmented and balkanized than ever before.

The Democrats’ calls for the elimination of the Electoral College is no small thing. Abolishing it would completely upend our form of government just for their political ends. They are still simmering over the 2000 election and are desperate to get the White House back. They obviously will do and say anything.

The elimination of the Electoral College would mean changing the Constitution, which requires two-thirds vote from congress and the ratification of three-fourths of the states. Obviously, states would never vote to eliminate what power they have and the amendment would go down to defeat.

However, there is a movement to circumvent the Electoral College without changing the Constitution. It’s called the National Popular Vote. The folks behind the NPV assert that the president is chosen by a handful of “battleground states” causing other states to be left out. While this may be true some of the time, it’s not true all of the time. Battleground states have changed over the years as the population shifts and changes. Besides some states aren’t battleground states because their citizens overwhelming support one candidate over another. On the other hand, the NPV would create a compact between 11 large states that would agree to give its Electoral College votes to the candidate who won the popular vote. This does nothing to solve the problem NPV proponents say is inherent in the Electoral College. Rather than some battleground states determining who becomes president some of the time, these eleven states will determine who becomes president all of the time, forcing those citizens’ votes on the remaining states.

Tara Ross in an article published in National Review explains it this way:

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.

With the Electoral College, candidates must build coalitions of voters, which also allows smaller states to have some power in the election process. The NPV undermines coalition building:

[T]he 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.

Eliminating the Electoral College would be a disaster for our form of government (we are a representative republic not a democracy) and for the citizens the NPV proponents say they care about.

*Corrected: I accidentally called Senator Bayh “Former senator.”

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