Every four years we have an election in the United States to decide who will be our president. And, every presidential election the question arises as to why we use the indirect electoral vote method for choosing our presidents instead of a direct popular vote method. This is especially true when an election is close as the case in the Bush – Gore election of 2000. To my knowledge, every democracy that isn’t a parliamentary system, elects their presidents by popular vote. The United States is the exception.
In the United States, the voters in each of the fifty states, when voting for their presidential candidate of choice, are actually voting for electors who will then go to what we call the Electoral College and cast the the electoral votes of their state according to their states laws. Each state has electoral votes equal to the sum of their number of representatives in congress and the number of Senators (each state has two Senators). Some states allocate their electoral votes in proportion to the way their citizens vote and for other states the winner in their state gets all the states electoral votes. In some states the electors are legally bound to vote as their state laws dictate and in others they are not. Today, it takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.
Our electoral system may seem a bit strange, but our Founders always had a reason for everything they did. Among other reasons, our electoral system was designed so that the big states couldn’t ru rough-shod over the smaller states.
Over the years groups have formed tp promote an amendment to the constitution to provide for electing our presidents by popular vote. But, there is an organization called National Popular Vote (NPV) that is working behind the scenes to achieve the popular vote system without changing the constitution. Maggie at Maggie’s Notebook did an excellent piece on this the other day. Folks, you really need to read this article.
What the NPV is doing is working within states to get them to pass legislation that would make it law that the state’s electoral votes would always be cast for the candidate who won the popular vote nationally. (You can find the NPV Home page here.)
Would American voters be so stupid as to go along with such an idea? Why, for example, would the voters of a state like California, which always votes overwhelmingly for the Democratic presidential cnadidate, ever agree to give all of their electoral votes (55) to the Republican candidate just because he won the national popular vote by say less than 100,00 votes? Californians would never agree to that, would they? My friends, never underestimate the stupidity of the American voter. From Maggie’s article we learn:
States which have passed legislation: California (55), Washington (12), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), New Jersey (14), Massachusetts (11), Vermont (3), Hawaii (4) and the District of Columbia (3). [Washington DC is not a state, it is a federal district, but does have 3 Electoral votes] = 132 votes already designated as Winner Take All (National Popular Vote)
Bills have been introduced: Idaho (4), Wyoming (3), Texas (38), Florida (29), Georgia (16), South Carolina (9), Tennessee (11), Indiana (11), and Ohio (18).
Legislation has passed both Houses: Colorado (9) and Rhode Island (4).
Legislation has passed in one House: Oregon (7), Nevada (9) , New Mexico (5), Arkansas (6), Michigan (16), North Carolina (15), New York (29), Maine (4), Michigan (16) and Delaware (3).
Legislation has passed 1 Committee: Montana (3), Oklahoma (7), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Alabama (9), Minnesota (10), Iowa (6), Kentucky (8), West Virginia (5) and Alaska (3).
Hearings have been held: Utah (6), Arizona (11), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Nebraska (5), Kansas (6), Missouri (10), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Pennsylvania (20) and New Hampshire (4).
Legislation is underway at some stage in every state.
So, how smart are the American voters? NPV says they are getting close to the half way point of have enough states pass their plan to account for 270 electoral votes. In theory that could be achieved with less than a third of the states going along with their plan. According to Maggie’s article, there is a lot of bipartisan support for the NPV plan. Unless there is a massive movement to reject the NPV movement, I predict that in a few years our president will be elected by popular vote and that will be a sad day indeed. That would end the last vestiges of states rights. In 1913 the american voters were stupid enough to pass the 17th Amendment to our constitution taking away the states right to appoint Senators. I’m sure it was an easy sell. It just sounded right that citizens should be able to elect their Senators. The American voter in 1913 did not know their history and why it was important for the states to be able to appoint Senators to look after the rights of their states. Here is a rhetorical question for you. Do you think Americans today know their history any better than Americans did in 1913?
Well, now you know what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?