WHY DID THE FRAMERS CREATE THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE?
by Paul R. Hollrah, ©2012
(Nov. 2, 2012) — In 2000, out of a total popular vote of 101,455,900, the Gore-Lieberman ticket won a narrow majority, 50,999,900 votes (50.26%) to 50,456,000 (49.74%) for Bush-Cheney.
A switch of just 271,948 votes, just over one-fourth of one percent (0.27%)… a number of votes that could have been switched with just one more national ad buy reminding voters of Al Gore’s role in the illegal Los Angeles Buddhist temple fundraising debacle… would have given Bush and Cheney a slim popular vote victory, along with a 271 to 266 vote victory (one DC elector abstained from voting) where it really counted… in the Electoral College.
The Bush-Cheney victory in the Electoral College has caused liberals… who refuse to recognize the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in creating the Electoral College… to go a little bit nuts. In response, they have created an organization called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC).
Aside from their insistence that the members of the House of Representatives be elected by direct vote of the people and that members of the Senate be elected by the political leadership of the states, i.e., the state legislatures (later overturned by the 17th Amendment), the Framers were concerned that a foreign power might one day attempt to achieve through corruption and political intrigue that which they could not achieve on the battlefield. Arguing in favor of the Electoral College, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper No. 68, “These most deadly adversaries of republican government (cabal, intrigue, etc.)” might come from many quarters, “but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?”
It was precisely for that reason they concluded that the president and vice president should be elected, not by direct vote of the people and not by the elected leaders of the states, but by a small group of individuals representing the sovereign states themselves.
With that goal in mind, the Framers put the selection of the president and vice president into the hands of a small number of electors, described in the Federalist Papers as those “most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations,” leaving the state legislatures to decide the manner by which each state’s electors would be chosen. The institution they created was the Electoral College, comprised of men and women who are, for one day only, state officials representing the state of their residence.
To those who now wish to emasculate the Electoral College, we would ask just one question:: Is it even remotely possible that, just five years and eleven months after the British surrendered at Yorktown, the Founders would have presented to the states for ratification a Constitution that would allow an individual with divided loyalties… for example, a person with dual US-British citizenship, … to serve as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Army and the Navy?
To believe they would have done so requires a willing suspension of reason. The Electoral College was designed specifically to prevent individuals with questionable credentials and/or allegiances from ever becoming president or vice president.
But now, in the earliest days of the 21st century, the Electoral College is under attack by those who misread or misconstrue our federal system. Since Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution gives the state legislatures the exclusive authority to determine the manner in which their state’s presidential electors are chosen, the NPVIC is lobbying the legislatures to adopt a rule requiring that all of their state’s electoral votes be cast for the candidates for president and vice president who received a majority of the national popular vote… regardless of the popular vote count in their own state.
On August 8, 2011, California joined Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia (all blue states which normally vote Democratic) in adopting the National Popular Vote rule, pledging all of their electoral votes to the candidates for president and vice president who win a majority of the national popular vote. California’s adoption of the NPVIC rule brought 134 of the needed 270 electoral votes under the popular vote rule. If and when states representing at least 270 electoral votes (a simple majority in the Electoral College) have joined the Compact, then and only then will those states be able to eliminate any possibility of electing a president and vice president with less than a majority of the national popular vote.
But is it possible that the eight blue states, plus DC, that have now been drawn into the National Popular Vote movement are only “shooting themselves in the foot?” Let’s play a little “what if,” using the results from the 2000 election in which the candidates who won the national popular vote lost the election in the Electoral College.
First, what if the U.S. Supreme Court had failed to intervene and the Democrat-dominated Florida Supreme Court… with absolutely no jurisdiction in the matter… had been allowed to order recounts in only the four most heavily Democratic counties in the state? The Florida vote was decided in favor of Bush-Cheney by a margin of only 537 votes. Given the Democrats’ well-known propensity for vote fraud, does anyone seriously doubt that they would have “found” 550 or 600 uncounted votes in the trunk of someone’s car or in a voting machine warehouse? Florida’s 25 electoral votes would have moved from the Bush-Cheney column to the Gore-Lieberman column and the final Electoral College tally would have been 291 to 246 in favor of Gore-Lieberman. Al Gore would have been elected president of the United States.
But what if the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact had been in place and Bush-Cheney had been able to attract 271,948 more votes out of the 101,455,900 votes cast… just one additional vote out of every 373 votes cast… to eke out a narrow victory in the national popular vote?
Looking at the electoral vote count (electoral votes in parentheses), if the thirteen blue states of Connecticut (8), Delaware (3), Iowa (7), Maine (4), Michigan (18), Minnesota (10), Nevada (4), New Mexico (5), New York (33), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (23), Rhode Island (4), and Wisconsin (11), with a total of 137 electoral votes, had joined the National Popular Vote coalition comprised of California (54), Hawaii (4), Illinois (22), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), New Jersey (15), Vermont (3), Washington (11), and the District of Columbia (2), with a total of 133 electoral votes, they would have controlled 270 electoral votes… a simple majority in the Electoral College.
However, with Bush-Cheney having eked out a razor-thin victory in the national popular vote, the NPV coalition would have automatically cast all 270 of their electoral votes for George Bush and Dick Cheney… in spite of the fact that 21 of the 22 states in the Compact had cast a majority of their popular votes for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.
So what would have been the outcome of the 2000 election in the Electoral College?
Combined with the 242 electoral votes that Bush-Cheney won on their own in 28 of the 29 non-NPVIC states, the Electoral College vote would have been a 512-25 landslide victory for Bush-Cheney. In other words, the proponents of the national popular vote would have insured a near-unanimous vote for Bush-Cheney in the Electoral College… the exact opposite of what the NPVIC intended.
The only state left in the Gore-Lieberman column would have been non-NPVIC Florida, which the Democrats would have won fraudulently.
In its state and national platforms, the Republican Party has come out solidly in support of the Electoral College and in opposition to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Were it not for the fact that conservatives and Republicans understand the purpose behind the Electoral College and support its continued existence, they might decide that the national popular vote concept would inure to their benefit.
Those who support the concept of selecting our presidents and vice presidents by national popular vote fail to understand either constitutional principles or demographic shifts. If they wish to “shoot themselves in the foot,” working contrary to their own political interests, perhaps they should be allowed to do so.