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Friday, January 8, 2010

Electoral College and Federalism

National Popular Vote is an organization advocating a plan that could change presidential elections:

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).
As of early January 2010, five states had enacted the plan.

Save Our States, a project of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, opposes National Popular Vote. It offers several argument. Here are a couple:

National Popular Vote would create geographic imbalance. Coalition building would become less important. If candidates need only win the most votes nationwide, common sense (and cost-effective campaign strategizing) would mean targeting the most densely populated areas. More than half of the nation’s entire population lives in its 40 largest urban areas. Under a national popular vote system, cities like New York and Los Angeles would decide presidential elections while the rest of the country would be potentially irrelevant.
NPV would make every election problem a potential national crisis. Consider the chaos that could take place on a national scale if concerns arose about election results. Some presidential elections have had a popular vote margin of only 10,000 votes—smaller than your average mid-sized university. With the Electoral College, recounts, fraud, corruption, or even political unrest can be contained and dealt with without compromising national stability. Under NPV, one state’s problems could be the iceberg that sinks the ship.

A pro-NPV video:


Trent England of Save Our States argues against it: