51 Statewide Elections for POTUS   Leave a comment

I hate Twitter debates because you really can’t say what you need to say in 140 characters. So, in lieu of that, I’m explaining it here, where I can make a reasoned, well-rounded point.

Image result for image of 51 statewide popular elections for presidentThe Constitution was created by people who (mostly) saw themselves as citizens of their state of residence. Virginians didn’t see themselves as Americans. They saw themselves as Virginians. John Adams called Massachusetts his “country”. If you read the extra-Constitutional writers of the various Framers, you discover that almost all of them thought they were forming a federation similar to the Articles of Confederation with just a slightly stronger federal government. They expected the federal government to be subordinate to the states, not the other way around.

So they set up the Constitution to reflect that attitude on many levels. One of those points where they did this is elections for presidents. Popular elections were not popular in 1789. The technology wasn’t really up to it, but more than that, our Founders feared the “tyranny of the majority” — low-information voters who would vote according to promises by politicians scared the heck out of them. States were supposed to choose their own electors for the Electoral College which selects the President. Back then, it was mostly done by state legislatures. Today, it is mostly done by popular election. Although the media makes a big deal out of the NATIONAL popular vote, that is really an unConstitutional process. More than that, it doesn’t reflect actual reality.

Instead of a national election for the presidency, we have 51 statewide elections. Each state gets to make its own decision on how to choose electors, but for more than a century, most states have used the popular vote within their state to choose the electors from that state. 30+ states have laws that require electors to vote in accordance with the popular vote within their state.

Sadly, most states have no real teeth to this law, which emboldens people who are unhappy with the current outcomes of the 51 popular elections to try and convince electors to simply ignore the popular vote within their state and vote however they want. By this, they mean “vote our way”.

By the way, this has happened before approximately 157 times, but no faithless elector has ever swung the election result. Most states have simply replaced the elector with someone who understood what state they hail from.

So, maybe it will happen this time … but, I doubt it because the states in which Trump won the popular vote will simply nullify their faithless electors’ votes. It will also probably cause them to strengthen the costs to electors who actually violate their charge from the popular vote of their state.

I know that’s hard for people to hear who are on the losing side of an electoral contest, who believe they have a right to have their preferred candidate in the White House because they won the “national popular vote”. But there is no national popular vote as the Constitution stands. There are 51 statewide popular votes. And Trump clearly won those elections.

 

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