‘Popular vote’ movement would shift power to big cities, experts warn

By Aaron Credeur | The Daily Signal

The Electoral College is under threat from states looking to enact legislation that ignores local voters in favor of national election results, experts said during a panel Thursday at The Heritage Foundation.

Responding to a wave of 15 states that have joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact since the 2016 election, they argued that the Founders instituted the Electoral College to ensure stability and representation to all states.

“We only got the Constitution because the Constitutional Convention persuaded the states to enter into a federation arrangement,” Allen Guelzo, a history professor at Gettysburg College, said. “Federalism is in the bones of our nation, and I would be concerned that we can’t start removing bones without the whole body collapsing.”

The panel, titled “The Fight to Preserve the Electoral College,” featured Guelzo as well as Trent England, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at Heritage.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a legislative partnership among states that agree to award all their electoral votes in future elections to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote, disregarding the results of ballots cast in each individual state.

The compact would take effect only once enough states join to determine an election by awarding all 270 electoral votes needed to secure a presidential win.

So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have joined the compact. Lobbyists actively are looking to expand the agreement to more states whose leaders were upset by the results of the 2016 election, when Republican Donald Trump won the presidency despite losing the national popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Guelzo argued that the Electoral College slows down presidential elections by design, providing legitimacy to the presidency and combating voter fraud.

“The Electoral College embodies a fundamental instinct of the Founders, which is to say ‘slow down,’” he said, adding that “gridlock is not actually an accident.”

The history professor pushed back on objections to the Electoral College, including by some analysts who have argued that the current system violates the principle of one person, one vote.

“If one man, one vote is to be the rule, then as soon as a president loses popular support we ought to have another vote,” Guelzo said. “So we could have presidential elections every six months, three months, eight months—every time there’s an unpleasant tweet.”

England based his arguments on the 2000 election, when Republican George W. Bush lost the national vote to Democrat Al Gore and a recount in Florida for that state’s electoral vote threatened to decide who sits in the Oval Office.

“This is not just going on in blue states, this is going on across the country,” England said of the movement to bypass the electoral college. “This is a serious threat wherever you live. Red state, purple state, there are people there lobbying to hijack the Electoral College.”

England said the movement for states to bypass the Electoral College without going through the difficult process of amending the Constitution gained renewed strength after the 2016 election.

Grassroots activists and lobbying organizations, he said, are driving a message that misleads many voters about the facts of the current electoral system.

Von Spakovsky, manager of Heritage’s Election Law Reform Initiative, turned to voting numbers to argue that rural areas would be left behind if the Electoral College were abolished.

“The whole point of the Electoral College is to balance the states’ demands for greater representation and sovereignty against the risk of what James Madison liked to call the tyranny of the majority,” von Spakovsky said.

Looking again at the 2000 election, he warned that without the Electoral College, the chaos that voters and the nation at large experienced during the Florida recount would be extended to every state and county across the nation, as candidates demanded recounts in every region that potentially could sway an election in their favor.

As a result, von Spakovsky said, the decisions of the president would be seen as illegitimate by significant portions of the nation, and voter fraud would run rampant in areas unprepared to deal with it.

“What we’ve had for over 200 years with the Electoral College system is unbelievable stability,” he said.

“There is no reason to change it now.”

Image courtesy of Flickr/justgrimes

10 thoughts on “‘Popular vote’ movement would shift power to big cities, experts warn

  1. True. It’s already in place in Vermont by judicial fiat. Power in the legislature is focused on Chittenden County, as per the state Supreme Court. Tyranny is here.

  2. Popular Vote is like government education: Dumbing down the vote. Pure democracy is
    for 3rd world *hitholes…..just look at our leftist run cities..

  3. Who here remembers Vermonters voting to join this “compact”?
    How “democratic” was that?
    We are approaching the mob rule of pure democracy.

  4. While the popular vote may sound reasonable, it’s little wonder why the Dems are in favor. They know that the pluralities in New York, New Jersey, Illinnois and Calafornia will get their presidential candidate elected year in and year out. The Electorial College is one of many examples of the brilliance of our Founding Fathers. Long may it continue.

  5. New York city, Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, LA and San Fran.- giant cities – might alone be able to elect a President, and let the great red blood areas of the country go completely unrepresented.

    Country people rely FAR less on Gov’t for “Everything. ” Tend to be Republican – Independent

    City People rely on Gov’t for almost everything! Water, waste, transportation, housing, trash, intensive policing, electric, virtually everything. Need to be Liberal – Dependent. What can you do in a City that doesn’t require the Gov’t’s heavy hand – not much.

    All people should be part of governing – and not rural people being smothered a Dozen Hugely populated Cities.
    The Founding Fathers understood that, Knew the South and the West would never vote to be governed by Boston alone.

  6. “‘Popular vote’ movement would shift power to big cities” – That is exactly the intent of the ‘Popular Vote’ movement and the motivation for that is the strong Democrat voter bias of the large cities. The current system does not in any way violate the “one man one vote” principle since every voter in each individual state has the same power to determine for which Presidential candidate the voter’s state of residence will cast its votes.

  7. The best reason for not eliminating the electoral college is that doing so would invalidate over half the votes of people who are not in big cities. And that is a call to revolution.

  8. Yes, Liberals want to dismantle the Constitution, our founding fathers had the foresight and
    knowledge to see what would happen if overpopulated states had the only say in our voting
    process !!

    Wow, just imagine a nation following in the footsteps of California leadership and you think
    we have problems now.

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