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Mike sent me this article today about how the National Popular Vote legislation is working its way through the Iowa Legislature. The National Popular Vote compact has been enacted in Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey (50 electoral votes). Bills to join the compact are currently pending in ten additional states. If the Act passes in states that have 270 Electoral Votes, it would effectively abolish the Electoral College without the use of a constitutional amendment.

Article Two, Section One

The Electoral College is established by Article Two, Section One, of the United States Constitution, which provides: “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: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.”

The Presidential Electors are selected by the popular vote. The number of electoral votes each state is entitled to calculated by adding is the sum of its number of U.S. Senators and its U.S. Representatives. At present, the Electoral College consists of 538 Presidential Electors.

Sidebar: The Constitution was amended in 1803 by the 12th Amendment, which provides that each Elector vote separately for president and vice president.

The efficacy of the presidential electoral process has been continually debated throughout its existence. The most recent cause for re-examination of this issue was the presidential election of 2000 when Democratic candidate Al Gore won a plurality of the national popular vote, but failed to win the majority of the Electoral College.

Maine and Nebraska choose Presidential Electors using what is termed the Maine Method, which makes it possible for the voters to choose Electors of different political parties and split the electoral vote of these two states.

Criticisms of the Current System

There are three main criticisms of the electoral college system:

First, the winner of the electoral college vote may be different than the winner of the popular vote. This has happened four times in the United States short history: 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000.

Second, the electoral college system gives more voting power to citizens of less populated states, resulting in disproportionate power to those state interests.

Third, under the electoral college system, the popular vote does not reflect popular will because people in “uncontested” states have no incentive to vote. Abolishing the Electoral College may entice the participation of voters in those states where their views are in the minority and their preferred candidate is extremely unlikely to win that state: (I.e. Voting Democrat in Alabama; Republican in Illinois).

Arguments For the Current System

The United States is a federal coalition of component states. The Electoral College preserves this system.

The Electoral College, which organizes votes by region, forces presidential candidates to garner widespread support throughout the Union. The National Popular Vote could elect a person who wins by a large margin in a few states even though another candidate prevailed by small margins in most states.

The Electoral College favors minority groups in particular states.

Potential consequences of National Popular Vote:

Would adoption of the popular vote would simply shift the disproportionate focus to large cities at the expense of rural areas?

Would candidates be inclined to campaign hardest in their base areas to maximize turnout among core supporters, and ignore more closely divided parts of the country?

What would the consequences be for third party candidates? Currently, you must win state to receive any electoral votes. This is a major impediment to a national third-party candidate.

If you are in favor of abolishing electoral college then don’t you have to be in favor of abolishing Senate? Must we then go to direct proportional representation on all matters?

Articles About National Popular Vote

National Popular Vote

Will states topple Electoral College?

Abolish the Electoral College

States Aim to End Electoral College

The Brilliance of the Electoral College

What Do You Think?

Discuss below.