Vail Daily wrong about Electoral Board
Vail, CO, Colorado
The Vail Daily Editorial Board (“Push the Popular Vote,” April 30) believes that states, in selecting presidential electors, should disregard the votes cast within their own borders in favor of defaulting to the nationwide popular vote to select them.
Its editorial presents various pro and con arguments, and takes the view that this would be a “more fair and modern” way to elect our president.
Yet never does the editorial discuss the views of the framers of the Constitution that created the Electoral College, nor does it provide any real analysis of possible effects.
In the first place, legislation of this kind would represent an end run around the amendment process in the Constitution, which requires the ratification of 38 states for a valid amendment. This legislation could be effective with as little as 11 states adopting it. While the Constitution allows state legislatures to pick the way they select presidential electors, it’s doubtful the framers intended for them to cede their selection powers to voters from the other states.
Creating the American federation required the independent states to cede a fair bit of power to the federal government.
Americans were rightly concerned about moving so much government power away from their local control. And agricultural states were worried about the federal government becoming a pawn of the densely populated industrial states.
One of the concerns the editorial board addressed was the feeling of many voters that their vote doesn’t count. Get used to it.
Based on voting in the 2008 election, a candidate carrying only the 11 largest states would win an Electoral College majority and be elected.
If all states passed the law the Vail Daily suggests, a candidate carrying a 64 percent majority in just the seven larger states, and garnering only 40 percent of the vote in the other 43 would be elected with a majority of the popular vote and a unanimous vote in the Electoral College.
Don’t you think the campaign technocrats would figure this out and offer special incentives to turn out a positive vote in those 7 states?
This is not an outrageous scenario. Three of those seven states delivered over 60 percent of their votes to one candidate last year.
National policies that could drive voters to these states, or drive voters in these states to the polls might be immigration or water policies, for example.
How would Colorado fare against a thirsty California under this electoral scenario? Candidates would spend more time in larger states, especially if they were “locks” for the party, because of the leverage involved in gaining more votes to sway the electoral votes of other states.
Indeed, parties might reasonably focus their legislative agenda toward these states ” just the scenario the framers tried to avoid.
Instead of encouraging broader participation, passage of this law would further concentrate political power.