To the editor:
Your December 5th opinion by John Koza to change the electoral college is deceptive sophistry on his part. The National Popular Vote (NPV) is an agreement among a group of U.S. states to award all their electoral college votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote.
What Mr. Koza leaves unsaid is the framers of the Constitution created the electoral college as a compromise between electing a president by vote of the Congress or the election by a popular vote of all qualified citizens. The Federalist Papers debated the issue at length. Smaller states didn’t want national elections determined by votes in larger states.
The federal constitution requires electors in each state must meet in mid-December after a Presidential election and cast votes for President according to their oaths. The federal constitution decides the time. The states decide the manner in which they vote. Article I, Section 10 of the federal constitution provides that “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress ... enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State.” It appears the first problems the NPV interstate compact may have is whether the states can constitutionally join the compact if Congress does not approve the compact.
The results of the NPV in states like Kansas are nutty. Kansas might vote strongly Republican, but the state’s electoral votes might go to whichever candidate carries California, Texas, New York and Illinois. Question for Kansans: if your vote doesn’t matter, will you even vote? If smaller states have no say in the result, it strengthens bigger states.
The electoral college has chosen a president against the popular vote totals only three times in history: 1876, 2000 and 2016. All three times the electoral college ended up with the Republican as President – which is why Democrats, all of a sudden, don’t like the system.
However, as Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “A page of history is worth a volume of logic.” In 1876, during Civil War Reconstruction, a lot of federal troops was an occupying force in the South. Votes in several southern states appeared to elect the Democrat, Samuel Tilden. Republicans demanded a national commission resolve the contested votes. Eventually, Southern Democrats engineered a compromise. Rutherford Hayes became President. He then agreed to immediately withdraw federal troops from the South. Without the army’s protections black Americans began enduring a 100-years of jim crow laws in the South.
In 2000, it took a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the close election between Al Gore and George H. Bush. Thankfully only Florida votes had to be recounted. The “hanging chad” ballot became a symbol for election day horrors.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton got more popular votes, but Trump obtained 304 electoral votes to Clinton’s 227. When the history of the 2016 election is written, it will be her lack of effort in the key rust belt states that cost her the election.
With no electoral college (which is the overriding purpose of the NPV effort), what happens with a close popular vote? Under the NPV system wouldn’t we need a recount in every state?
Worse, if a recount “flips” the first national vote outcome, won’t the recount itself call into question the legitimacy of the President elected by the recount? Can you imagine the real anger if that happened? With recounts important in every county in the country, we don’t have enough lawyers and judges in America to file all the possible lawsuits.
The Dems will buy into Koza’s idea. But it will heal nothing. History and facts show the NPV is a solution in search of a problem.