All leading Democratic presidential candidates reject present constitutional language in electing future presidents of the United States. Opponents of the Electoral College seek to alter a process that has worked for well over two hundred years. Fueled by Hillary Clinton’s winning the popular vote yet denied the White House and unable to get two-thirds of the states as constitutionally required to consider altering this part of the Constitution, some seek to reject the Constitution instead.
They call their plan the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. In it participating states would allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote rather than the winner of the state popular vote, thus potentially disenfranchising the popular vote in an individual state and perhaps even in a majority of states.
There exists no language in the Constitution authorizing a popular vote for the executive branch of government. The idea for a popular vote came about in 1824, after the Electoral College denied the presidency to highly temperamental Andrew Jackson, the most popular man in America due to his success in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. His supporters, believing the denial to be an injustice, created a straw vote so that the people could participate in the election although this vote had no power.
Over time the media empowered it by treating it as the “legitimate” vote for the president, belittling the Electoral College process as unfair and undemocratic. Seldom do they remind citizens that the Electoral College works because the nation is not a democracy, but a republic, and that none of the branches of government are democratic; most especially the Senate and Supreme Court. Andrew Jackson had to wait until he could convince the seasoned citizen voters of the Electoral College that he was not too emotional for the office. He did so four years later in 1828. Moreover, today the media seldom cover the real election of the president in December, such is their disdain for it.
Those unable to get a two-thirds vote to remove the Electoral College, as required in Article V of the Constitution, have conceived a brilliant but subversive plan to do just that without the constitutional amendment required. When enough state legislatures have committed their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, and that number is 270 or above, remaining states will be required to support as well. And just like that and almost without any public debate outside state legislatures, and seemingly overnight, the popular vote will replace the Electoral College as the means by which a president is elected. A few highly populated states would decide for the rest of the country – something decidedly opposed by the Founders.
Ironically, proponents ignorantly use a small portion of the Constitution to destroy a larger portion. They cite Article II, Section 1 which reads, “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress.”
This section, they said, gives state legislatures the right to award their electors as they see fit. Actually, the phrase allows the state legislatures appointing powers only. To suggest that they should have influence over their vote once selected nullifies the reason for their existence. The Electoral College was to be a non-governmental body completely separate and unaccountable to the state Legislature once appointed, as per the rest of the section. Certainly the phrase did not authorize states to simply alter or dump Article II, Section 1 and Amendment 12 of the Constitution which is the effect.
Moreover, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact also violates Article I, Section 10. This section prohibits states from entering into “alliances,” or compacts with other states unless Congress gives its consent. Certainly conspiring states have entered into an alliance to nullify the Electoral College, which mandates the right of individual states, to choose the president.
At present, 15 states, which are almost all Democratic, and the District of Columbia have a combined electoral vote total of 196 and have come on board with 74 votes short of the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to impose this strategy upon the rest of the country and nullify a long standing pillar of the Constitution. Oregon became the most recent state to join the unconstitutional alliance, June 12, voting to change the Constitution without amending it as required by the document.
Unfortunately those who do not revere the Constitution and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers to balance the vote so that rural Americans would not be disenfranchised by urban Americans were emboldened by Hillary Clinton’s receiving the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election; yet, she was denied the presidency. Still, it is well to remember that only California gave Clinton its popular vote. In the other 49 states, President Donald Trump won the popular vote. Without the Electoral College Clinton would be president by the popular vote of but a single state and be disfavored by all others. How is that just, balanced or even democratic?
Granted the Electoral College is the most difficult part of the Constitution to understand and is easy to oppose because it is undemocratic. Citizens should spend some time to understand it. A patriot and constitutionalist will see through the scheme to destroy it without the debate and transparency required in Article V. No end run around the Constitution should ever be permitted.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and to applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.