Thursday, March 05, 2020

Electoral College

Last summer I addressed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an attempt to end around the Constitution. Another less radical attempt to overcome the state-focused nature of the U. S. Presidential Election and the Electoral College is proportionally-assigned electors.

Some folks think the States should assign electoral votes proportionately. This is a consistent position for those who think the president should be elected by national popular vote. If every state divvied out electoral votes according to a percentage of their popular vote, it could effectively elect the presidential in accordance with the national popular vote (and without a constitutional amendment). So far as I know, it is within each state’s right to do that if they so choose. At least a couple of states already have some kind of proportional system. However, my understanding of the concept of and reason for the Electoral College is that STATES rather than individuals elect Presidents. The winner of our state popular vote gets all 35 of the electoral votes. I have no feeling of disenfranchisement. Why? Because the concept of the Electoral College is that the STATE votes for the president. In Texas we decide by popular vote for whom the STATE will vote. Everyone in Texas who wants to vote gets their say, and the majority popular vote decides. I do not consider myself disenfranchised by the system we have in Texas – even though I have not voted for the winner of the state’s popular vote (the collector of all our electoral votes) in the past 30 years so.

A little history lesson
No presidents of the United States have ever been elected by national popular vote. All have been selected by the Electoral College, except two Presidential elections which were decided in the House of Representatives (1800 and 1824). In 1800 there was no popular vote; the state legislatures appointed their electors. Due to a tie, the selection was made by the House of Representatives. Five times candidates have won the national popular vote and lost the presidential election. In 1824 Andrew Jackson won the popular vote; neither he, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, nor William H. Crawford won a majority in the Electoral College, and the election was decided in favor of Adams in the House. In 1876 Samuel Tilden received the national popular vote, but lost to Rutherford B. Hayes. Likewise, in 1888 Grover Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison), in 2000 Al Gore lost to George W. Bush, in 2016 Hillary Clinton lost to Donald J. Trump.

“Article II, Section 1. Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors...”

“There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their States. Some States, however, require electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories—electors bound by State law and those bound by pledges to political parties.”

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