Having taken part of July off, I am now back in the swing of things and anticipate more blogging in the weeks ahead !
Many voters, especially Democrats, were bothered that George W. Bush became President in 2000 despite Al Gore winning the popular vote (never mind that both candidates knew the rules and presumably geared their campaigns to win the electoral college vote, not the popular vote). Massachusetts is poised to join a group of states that have passed laws stating that their electoral vote will go to the popular vote winner, with legislation awaiting the Governor’s signature.
The national popular vote movement is one in a long line of attempts to change the electoral college system, and is set to take effect only when states with a majority of electoral votes have passed an enabling law. Currently, states with 61 of the required 270 electoral votes have passed such a law.
I think this is in direct opposition to the system set up by the Constitution, where each state is assigned a number of electoral votes equal to the number of Congressmen (Senators plus Representatives) and makes its own rules to select electors who vote in the electoral college that elects the President. As nearly all states have a winner-takes-all system where the popular vote winner in a state gets all of its electoral votes, this system limits the ability of a few very populous states with a large fraction of the population from dominating the Presidency.
A national popular vote law would have several delicious ironies for Massachusetts. Under the law, Massachusett’s votes could go to a Republican who wins the popular vote, even if Massachusetts stays true blue! Another was highlighted in my recent letter to the editor of the Boston Globe:
GOVERNOR PATRICK is poised to sign a law requiring that Massachusetts’ electoral votes for president will go to the nationwide popular vote winner.
How ironic is that? This law was passed by the Legislature, not by a popular vote.
Well, I certainly didn’t expect more comments on this post than any other, to date ! They come from one poster, mvymvy, who has a lot to say about the national popular vote movement. I deleted some of his comments since I prefer posts and comments with some originality. You can follow the link to see more of his views.
The merits of a national popular vote (NPV) compared to our current system are debatable. Here are two articles against NPV from redstate.com and James Taranto (Best of the Web). The NPV website makes its own case.
What is not debatable is that this movement started in response to the 2000 presidential election. What is also not debatable is that NPV makes an end run around the plain notion that a state controls how its presidential votes are apportioned. Whether that is constitutional or not, it certainly subverts the federalist spirit of the US government as laid out by the Founding Fathers. It could enable the tyranny of the majority that our system of checks and balances (mostly) avoids.
As big a change to our government as NPV should be the subject of a constitutional amendment, which requires more than a simple majority to enact. The artifice employed by NPV that would only require passage by states with a simple majority of electoral votes is antithetical to our system of government. It is one of a piece with legislative tactics that seek to ram legislation through on partisan votes with no respect for the minority view.