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.
Choosing The Senate President
Nothing triggers my Don Quixote spirit more so than that part of the Presidential campaign when the Presidential candidate is shopping for a running mate. Reading between the lines, over the lines, or under the lines, I can find nothing in the Constitution to justify the Presidential candidate being allowed to pick the V.P. candidate.
The Founding Fathers intended for the office of Vice President to be the second most powerful office in government. He is to serve as the Presiding Officer over the day-to-activities of the Senate and is to be selected by voters of the entire country, not by the voters of a single state, as is the case today when we allow the Senate Majority Leader to usurp the constitutional duties of the Vice President. The only duties assigned to the Vice President by the Constitution are to count the votes of the Electoral College and to serve as President of the Senate. Click HERE for a more detailed discussion.
We have seen over the past three-and-a-half years the damage that can be done to our legislative processes and to the country when political hacks whose only loyalty is to their party and their only goal is gaining more power, are allowed to preside over the two houses of Congress. While John Boehner is incompetent as Speaker of the House, at least his office is constitutional and he was duly elected by the membership of the House. There is however, no constitutional requirement that the Speaker be from the majority party of even a member of Congress.
While the Constitution (Art. 1.2.9) permits the House to elect its Presiding Officer, the same is not true for the Senate. Article I, Sec. 3, clause 6, 7 requires, “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided. The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.”
The President pro tempore is not a permanent office. He is to be chosen by the Senate to serve temporarily as the Presiding Officer of the Senate only, “in the absence of the Vice President, or when he (the V.P.) shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.” The Speaker of the House is the Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives, and the Vice President of the United States is the Presiding Officer of the Senate. There is no constitutional requirement for him to be a member of the majority party just as there is no requirement that the Speaker of the House be a member of Congress. The President of the Senate is the only officer of the Legislative Branch to be elected nationally and accountable to the voters of the entire country.
While there is no way, in the short term, to bring the Federal government back in line with the Constitution, we should be working tirelessly to that end. In the meanwhile, if Mitt Romney wishes to follow the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution and Amendment XII, in selecting his running mate, he should choose Rick Santorum since he received the second largest number of delegates during the Primaries.
Also see these two posts from the 2008 election cycle.
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Posted in 2012 election, commentary, Congress, Constitution, Electoral College, founding fathers, history, progressives
Tagged 2012 elections, congress, conservatism, constitution, constitutional duties of the vice president, democrats, duties of the vice president, electoral college, founding fathers, government, John Boehner, liberty, political hacks, Politics, president pro tempore, republican party, senate majority leader, vice president