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Harold Pease, Ph. D

Opponents of the Electoral College seek to alter a process that has worked for well over two hundred years. Fueled by Hillary’s winning the popular vote yet denied the White House and unable to get two-thirds of the states as required to consider altering this part of the Constitution, some seek an end run around it instead. They say that the Electoral College is not democratic enough. They call their plan the National Popular Vote Plan. In it participating states would allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote rather than the winner of the popular vote in their state.

There exists no language in the Constitution authorizing a popular vote for the executive branch of government. Such came about in 1824 after the Electoral College denied the presidency to 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 College process as unfair and undemocratic. Seldom do they remind us that it works because we are 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 for the president in December such is their distain for it.

Those unable to get a two-thirds vote to destroy the Electoral College have conceived a brilliant plan to do just that without the constitutional amendment required. The plan is to have each state legislature commit their state to support the national popular winner instead of the candidate winning their state. When enough states do so that the Electoral College numbers exceed 270, remaining states will be required to support as well. Wham!! 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. We would be back to a few highly populated states deciding for the rest of the country—so opposed by our 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, they say, 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 voting 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.

Moreover, the National Popular Vote Plan also violates Article I, Section 10. This prohibits states from entering into “alliances” with other states unless Congress gives its consent. Certainly agreeing states have entered into an alliance with one another to nullify the Electoral College, which mandates the right of individual states, through their people, to chose the president.

At present ten states and the District of Columbia, a combined electoral vote total of 165, have come on board delivering about half the 270 electoral votes needed to impose this upon the rest of the country and nullify a long standing pillar of the Constitution. States voting to change the Constitution without amending it, as required by the document, are: California 55, Hawaii 4, Illinois 20, Maryland 10, Massachusetts 11, New Jersey 14, New York 29, Rhode Island 4, Vermont 3, and Washington 12. New York is the most recent addition joining the unconstitutional alliance March 25, 2014.

Unfortunately for those who revere the Constitution and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers to balance the vote so that rural American would not be disenfranchised by urban American, are emboldened by Hillary Clinton’s receiving the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election yet denied the presidency. Still, it is well to remember that only California gave Clinton its popular vote. In the other forty-nine Donald Trump won the popular vote. Without the Electoral College Clinton would be president by the vote of but a single state, 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. 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 this document 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 applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.