Left-wing candidates for president are lining up to call for the elimination of the Electoral College.
That’s the constitutional system through which small-population states retain influence in a national election.
Many Democrats want to elect the president with a national popular vote.
One such individual is Democratic hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“We need to make sure that every vote counts,” she said recently. “The way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College and everybody … I think everybody ought to have to come and ask for your vote.”
Democrats have complained that their candidate lost in 2000 and 2016 despite accumulating more popular votes nationwide.
But Timothy Snowball, a constitutional attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, contends “the justifications for the Electoral College are just as valid now as they were in 1788.”
“It is a system that respects individual states as sovereign units within our larger federal system.”
He says that’s precisely why activists hate it.
The problem with a national popular vote, he says, is that “the most heavily populated parts of the country are clustered on the coasts, and maybe Texas or Florida.”
“If we got rid of the Electoral College, candidates for president would have no reason to campaign in Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, or any of the other 47 states. Instead, they would be focused on courting the coasts, while picking up the two or three other medium sized areas to put them over the numerical top.”
It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win, because there are 538 electors.
A plan to have the nation ruled by California and New York would have “horrified” the writers of the Constitution, he argues.
“The Framers, who had just fought a desperate war for their independence from Great Britain, were extremely suspicious of executive power. So not only did they attempt to limit the power of the presidency in the Constitution, but to make sure that the election of the president would not be dependent on the whims, passions, and prejudices of the electorate. It is specifically designed to be anti-democratic,” he writes.
“Those who are calling for the repeal of the Electoral College (or for packing the Supreme Court, or for basing the U.S. Senate on population instead of equal suffrage), do not oppose it because it is not working. They oppose it because it is working,” he says.
“They don’t like the Electoral College because it frustrates their efforts to elect radical politicians to the office of the presidency who are outside the mainstream of traditional American political thought. But that was the whole point.”