Democrats attempt to bypass Electoral College in Presidential Elections
The most devious and cynical attempt to date for undermining our Constitution is taking place just below the radar, totally unknown to the average American. I am talking about the ongoing effort to nullify the Electoral College and circumvent the requirements of the Constitution through state law. The most recent state to join in the effort was New York, when its Senate on Wednesday, passed the National Popular Vote Bill 52-7.
The effort was started by a California based group called the National Popular Vote (NPV). NPV was organized in response to the 2000 election when, they contend, Al Gore received 500,000 more popular votes than George Bush did, yet the Electoral College gave the victory to Bush. The purpose of NPV is to bypass the Electoral College and elect the President strictly on the results of the nationwide popular vote. The allure of the idea is that deciding the winner of the Presidential race by popular vote seems more democratic.
According to NPV, “The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee a majority of the Electoral College to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote in the Electoral College reflects the choice of the nation’s voters for President of the United States.”
The plan is quite simple, Get enough states with combined Electoral College votes amounting to more than 270 to pass a state law allocating their state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most national popular vote. The plan would make the Electoral College irrelevant without the messy requirement to pass a Constitutional Amendment.
“Under the U.S. Constitution, the states have exclusive and plenary (complete) power to allocate their electoral votes, and may change their state laws concerning the awarding of their electoral votes at any time. Under the National Popular Vote bill, all of the state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).” ~NPV Website
Thus far, the bill has been signed into law in five states, Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington. New York will be number six when passed by the lower House and signed by the Governor. These six states account for 92 of the 270 electoral votes needed to put the plan into effect. An additional 30 legislative chambers representing 20 states have already passed the bill and are awaiting action by the other state chamber and/or the Governor’s signature.
At first glance, most Americans do not see anything wrong with the plan since it does make the election of the President more democratic. For most of us, attempting to understand the Electoral College and its importance, causes our brain to go numb and our eyes to glaze over. Nevertheless, since it is the Electoral College that protects us from “a tyranny of the majority”, we need to have at least a fundamental understanding of how it works and why.
When the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 was considering the method for selecting the Chief Executive, they were faced with two choices. One, elect the President by the popular vote of the people or two, elect him by a vote of the national legislature. To understand why this choice is important we have to remember that to the Founders, who were students of both history and human nature, the thought of a pure democracy was anathema. Another important fact is that the Federal Government was intended to represent the states, and the people only indirectly through their state governments.
The Electoral College plan was a compromise between the two choices. In the compromise, states were to be divided into districts and voters in each district would choose electors who in turn would vote for the President. The rise in power of political parties modified this plan somewhat but we still follow the general practice required by the Constitution, in form, if not in substance. The most important point to consider is that the NPV bill is in direct opposition to the Founders desire to avoid the election of the President by popular vote. Participants in the Constitution Convention considered that option and rejected it as being too prone to corruption and abuse.
In the NPV plan quoted above it is claimed that, “the states have exclusive and plenary (complete) power to allocate their electoral votes.” This is an outright misrepresentation of the clear text and intent of the Constitution. Article II section 1, gives the states the authority to “appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors,…” The state Legislature only has the authority to determine the manner in which electors are appointed. It does not have the authority to determine how they will vote. Neither does it have the power to “allocate” those votes to anyone other that the person for whom they were cast.
This is shown by the carefully thought out procedures for protecting the integrity of Electoral College votes and transmitting them to Congress. Both Article II and the Twelfth Amendment place the same requirements for protecting the integrity of the vote. In legal terms, it is called the “chain of custody”.
Article II: “And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.”
Twelfth Amendment: “and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;”
Even IF the states were allowed to “allocate” the electoral votes as they saw fit, there are still some major ethical questions to be considered. The “watchdog” over the Electoral Votes is the National Archives and Record’s Administration Office of the Federal Register. (NARA) In its instructions to the states, the NARA requires each state to submit a “Certificate of Ascertainment” immediately after the General Election as soon as the votes are counted and certified.
- Each Certificate must list the names of the electors chosen by the voters and the number of votes received.
- Each Certificate must list the names of all other candidates for elector and the number of votes received.
- Each Certificate must be signed by the Governor and carry the seal of the State.
The Certificates of Ascertainment, are to be prepared “as soon as election results are final” and submitted to NARA. This step is usually completed in early November. The Electors do not meet until mid-December. In order for the scheme of NPV to work, many electors would have to vote contrary to the pledge they made to the voters who elected them in the General Election. While this may be legal, no one can claim that it is ethical.
Another Constitutional hurdle the NPV must overcome is found in Article I, Section 10 that requires the approval of Congress before a state can “enter into any agreement or compact with another state”.
Based on the rate the bills have been moving, it could well be in place for the 2012 elections.Why, you may ask, are the Democrats so eager to get this scheme in place as quickly as possible? To answer this question, we only have to look at the geographical layout of country. Under this scheme, the President could be elected by just the voters of the most populous states. The majority of the voters in those states are located in large metropolitan areas. Nineteen of the twenty-five largest cities in the U.S. have Democratic Mayors and are dominated by Democratic political machines, many of them almost as corrupt as the Chicago machine that gave us Rod Blagojevich, Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Tony Rezko. These large Metropolitan Centers are strategically located to maximize Democrat votes.
On the East Coast, there is New York that has a Democrat/Republican/Independent Mayor. The rest, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston and Washington all have Democrat Mayors. In the Midwest, Columbus, Indianapolis, Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee all have Democrat Mayors. On the West Coast, there are Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Once the NPV plan is in place campaign money and effort need only be concentrated in the large population centers. By coincidence, it is these large population centers, controlled by Democrats that are most susceptible to voter fraud, especially with organizations like ACORN, and similar groups conducting “get out the vote“ campaigns.
It is likely that the only way Obama can win reelection in 2012, unless things change, is by massive voter fraud. The NPV plan is designed to facilitate just such an outcome. It is doubtful that the National Popular Vote Bills can pass Supreme Court muster. However, by the time they get to the Supreme Court it will be too late for the 2012 election.
Welcome To Politics, Chicago Style
After reading all seventy-six pages of the Blagojevich indictment, I am shocked—shocked that anyone would be shocked that politicians engage in politics. Welcome to politics, Illinois and Chicago style.
What has all the politicos so upset is the crude way in which Blago went about making his deals. The most outrageous accusation, the selling of a Senate seat was, for some reason, cut short by Fitzgerald before any crime was committed, thus practically insuring that no prosecution on that charge will be successful.
As for the rest of it, that’s politics as it is currently carried on in America, particularly in Illinois. If you are shocked by this, you haven’t been paying attention. Why do you think most large companies and other organizations maintain lobbyists in Capitals all over America, including Washington? How do you think most government appointments are made? How do you think most Ambassadors secure their appointments? M-O-N-E-Y, otherwise known in polite political circles as campaign contributions.
The problem with Blago is that he insisted on putting the cart before the horse by insisting on spelling out the payoff before the deal was made, and in such uncouth language. Usually the contributions are made first, then comes the favors. Most politicians who play the game understand the rules, as do the other players. The number one rule is that you never outwardly express the terms of the deal, especially in public or on the phone.
Normally when a large contribution is made, there is an unspoken understanding that the recipient of that contribution will look favorably on your requests once in office. Since there is no guarantee the candidate you contribute to will win, most savvy players contribute to both sides. Candidates, on the other hand, know that the person writing the multi-thousands dollars checks understand that they can expect something from the candidate in return, if elected.
The understanding between the candidate and the contributors form a kind of psychological contract. That’s why many on the left are so angry at soon-to-be (Dec. 15th) President-Elect Barack Obama. After kicking in over $700 millions into his campaign coffers, there are signs he might renege on some of his promises, therefore they feel cheated.
There are a number of ways to ingratiate oneself to a politician. There is the vote. This entitles you to a polite letter from a member of his or her staff in response to your complaint or request. You can also volunteer for his campaign. This may get you a low-level job with the government after election and possibly a visit to his office when you are in town. It may also entitle you to consideration for a favor or two from his or her local office staff.
The most effective way, of course, is to write a hefty check to his campaign. Do it at a fund-raiser and you also get to meet others in the inner-circle. Depending on the size of your check and the nature of your request, you may get a plumb appointment, a contract for your business, favorable tax considerations for your projects or a least a nice little “gift” tucked into a bill, otherwise known as a “pork-barrel” amendment.
All in all, the Blagojevich indictment presents a disturbing but somewhat accurate picture of the underbelly of politics in Illinois, and to an extent, of politics in general. Politics is an ugly business. Corruption is a natural bi-product of politics, especially of liberal and socialist politics. It can only continue however, with the acquiescence of the voting public.
The primary motivation for those engaging in politics is power and, as we know, power corrupts. If we wish to eliminate corruption from our politics there are some thing we can do. The founders understood the corrupting power of politics. That’s why they insisted on limiting the terms elected officials were expected to serve. Many in that era wanted the President and Senators to serve for life as they did in the English monarchy.
Others, including Jefferson wanted to limit the President to one term of seven years. The limits finally decided on were two years for Representatives, six for Senators and four for President. The number of terms each could serve was left up to the voters. After Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to four terms, a Constitutional Amendment (No. 22) was passed limiting the President to two terms. Efforts to limit Senators and Representatives have all been in vain.
One of the most effective ways of eliminating or reducing corruption in politics is to simply STOP VOTING FOR THE SAME CLOWNS IN ELECTION AFTER ELECTION. No matter how honest, civic minded and patriotic when elected, very few can resist the temptations of power when they are exposed to it throughout the major portion of their lifetime.
This is not an indictment of all politicians. At the same time, corruption is too widespread to consider the Blagojevich episode to be an isolated case. Illinois is one of the most corrupt states in the union, most of the corruption starts from the Chicago and Cook County political machines and spreads outward from there.
Every year the cost of office increases in price. Obama spent almost a billion dollars for his office, Blago was asking a million for Obama’s old Senate seat. Wealthy candidates often spend millions of their own money to secure a high office. In the end, it usually turns out to be a good investment, if successful. Bill Clinton, for example, never earned more than $35,000 per year until he was elected President. After serving for only eight years, he now gets millions for a single speech.
Those who insist on voting for the same person election after election have no reason to complain about corruption. For the rest of us, we should work for term limits on all elected offices. If a candidate does not reach his or her “level of incompetence” (The Peter Principle) in one or two terms they can move up to successively higher levels until they do. Once reaching their level, they should never be allowed to remain in office for longer than it takes to vote them out.
Another way of limiting corruption is to break the power political parties have over our government. The political parties as they are now structured are having the same effect on our government the unions have had on Detroit automakers. The only way to break the unhealthy power of political parties is to return to the non-partisan form of government envisioned by the founders and outlined in the Constitution.
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Posted in Barack Obama, Commentary on Government Powers, constitution, Politics
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