Tuesday, April 20, 2010

End Run Around the Constitution for Electing the President

There are changes being contemplated in state legislatures all across the country. There is a popular movement afoot to alter the way in which we choose the President of the United States. Delaware is just one of many states to consider these changes.

Delaware HB 198 would diminish the voice of Delawareans in the selection of the President of the United States. The goals sound reasonable on first glance, but on further examination, the warts start to show. This bill is an attempt to ensure that the nationwide winner of the popular vote could not lose the presidency to someone who got fewer popular votes, but more Electoral College votes. This is what happened in the Bush vs Gore election of 2000.

It accomplishes this by coordinating legislation in the various states to award all their Electoral College votes to whichever candidate wins not the statewide popular vote, but the nationwide popular vote. This is a nationwide movement to get as many individual state legislatures as possible to pass similar bills. Delaware HB 198 is an attempt to circumvent the Constitution without formally amending it. The Electoral College mechanism remains intact, but the states change the way they allocate their votes. Here is the synopsis of the bill from the Delaware Legislature website.

The goal may be appealing, ie. the popular vote determines the winner, but there are a couple of problems. First, even if Delaware votes overwhelmingly for one candidate, all of our Electoral College votes would go to a different candidate if that candidate won the nationwide popular vote. The other problem with the legislation is that candidates would have no incentive to campaign in small states or cater to their interests because their Electoral College votes could be secured by appealing to regions with greater populations. They could promise the people of California, New York, Texas etc. whatever they wanted, even to the detriment of smaller states like Delaware, without jeopardizing their Delaware electoral votes. This disenfranchises small states like Delaware.

As appealing as the idea of popular election of the president sounds, there are elements on both sides of the political spectrum who object to the concept. Here is a blogpost from one of Delaware's more liberal websites. Here is one from a conservative site. What do you know. The spirit of bipartisanship lives.

If you agree with me that this bill mutes the voices of Delawareans in choosing a president, please write your State Representative and State Senator and tell them you do NOT support HB 198.

State Senate Contact Info

State Representative Contact Info