The Real Electoral College Reform

The familiar whining about the popular vote in presidential elections and the implicit anachronism of the Electoral College ought to be turned on its head by constitutional conservatives.  The greatest problem of politics and government in our country today is Washington, and the only answer to that problem is the restoration of true federalism, making state governments a vital player in national elections.

The Constitution conferred three special powers on state legislatures to make sure that the federal government was held in check: enacting constitutional amendments, choosing members of the Senate, and choosing the method of selecting presidential electors. 

Until 1824, in every state of the union, it was the state legislatures who directly chose all presidential electors, which is the reason electoral histories show no "popular vote" at all until 1824, and even then, some states had voters choose electors, and some state legislatures chose the electors directly.  Gradually state legislatures changed the method of choosing electors so that these individuals were directly elected by voters.  As with the "reform" of having senators elected directly, the "reform" of having voters choose electors has removed the vital check states had on an overbearing federal government.

Any state can change its laws and return to the state legislature the power to choose the state's presidential electors.  Republicans next year could make that change in 26 of the 50 states, which collectively have 249 electoral votes, and that is a minimal level.  Alaska has an independent governor who would probably support that change, and if Republicans ultimately win the North Carolina gubernatorial race, those two states would raise the total electoral votes chosen by state legislatures to 267, or three fewer than needed to decide the election. 

Depending upon how midterm elections go, even more states – Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico – could be added to that list, which would mean that 33 states would have the legislatures pick the electors, and those states would have 326 electoral votes. 

What would be the impact of placing back in the hands of state legislatures the power to elect the president?  Consider the problems that plague presidential elections today: rampant voter fraud, hyper-partisanship, wildly expensive presidential campaigns, pernicious influence of the corruption of the establishment national media, and the need for presidential candidates to propose a single solution for the problems of the myriad states.

If state legislatures reclaimed and exercised their power to choose presidential electors and used that power, then these problems would be solved by the structural change in politics.

The pox of voter fraud in presidential elections is cured if electors are chosen in public votes by state legislatures.

True nonpartisan candidates could effectively campaign for president by going to the legislatures of each state in public testimony before bipartisan legislative committees and persuading legislators by the intelligence and coherence of their answers.

This sort of campaigning would also require a great deal of time but almost no money at all.  The need to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to run for president would be unnecessary. 

State and local media would suddenly become important in persuading legislators to support a particular candidate, while the corrupt establishment media of the Beltway would have almost no influence in presidential elections at all. 

Perhaps most importantly, diverse states with different ideological inclinations might find in the genuine restoration of the sort of federalism the Founders intended a common cause in rallying behind a presidential candidate willing to allow Hawaii to be Hawaii, Mississippi to be Mississippi, Vermont to be Vermont, Alaska to be Alaska…and so on. 

The natural complement to this reform would to convene a constitutional convention, which would require resolutions by 34 of the legislatures of the several states.  Republicans will control at the beginning of 2017 both houses of the legislature in 33 states, and if 2018 is a Republican year, then Republicans could easily capture control of Maine, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Washington – enough to convene and also to ratify amendments. 

The state legislature was intended to be the primary check on rogue national government.  If state legislators have the gumption to use their residual powers they can regain that vital check.  The best place to start, while dumb leftists are groaning about that nonexistent thing, the "popular vote" in presidential elections, is to strip that silly term of any meaning at all by having states again choose presidents.

The familiar whining about the popular vote in presidential elections and the implicit anachronism of the Electoral College ought to be turned on its head by constitutional conservatives.  The greatest problem of politics and government in our country today is Washington, and the only answer to that problem is the restoration of true federalism, making state governments a vital player in national elections.

The Constitution conferred three special powers on state legislatures to make sure that the federal government was held in check: enacting constitutional amendments, choosing members of the Senate, and choosing the method of selecting presidential electors. 

Until 1824, in every state of the union, it was the state legislatures who directly chose all presidential electors, which is the reason electoral histories show no "popular vote" at all until 1824, and even then, some states had voters choose electors, and some state legislatures chose the electors directly.  Gradually state legislatures changed the method of choosing electors so that these individuals were directly elected by voters.  As with the "reform" of having senators elected directly, the "reform" of having voters choose electors has removed the vital check states had on an overbearing federal government.

Any state can change its laws and return to the state legislature the power to choose the state's presidential electors.  Republicans next year could make that change in 26 of the 50 states, which collectively have 249 electoral votes, and that is a minimal level.  Alaska has an independent governor who would probably support that change, and if Republicans ultimately win the North Carolina gubernatorial race, those two states would raise the total electoral votes chosen by state legislatures to 267, or three fewer than needed to decide the election. 

Depending upon how midterm elections go, even more states – Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico – could be added to that list, which would mean that 33 states would have the legislatures pick the electors, and those states would have 326 electoral votes. 

What would be the impact of placing back in the hands of state legislatures the power to elect the president?  Consider the problems that plague presidential elections today: rampant voter fraud, hyper-partisanship, wildly expensive presidential campaigns, pernicious influence of the corruption of the establishment national media, and the need for presidential candidates to propose a single solution for the problems of the myriad states.

If state legislatures reclaimed and exercised their power to choose presidential electors and used that power, then these problems would be solved by the structural change in politics.

The pox of voter fraud in presidential elections is cured if electors are chosen in public votes by state legislatures.

True nonpartisan candidates could effectively campaign for president by going to the legislatures of each state in public testimony before bipartisan legislative committees and persuading legislators by the intelligence and coherence of their answers.

This sort of campaigning would also require a great deal of time but almost no money at all.  The need to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to run for president would be unnecessary. 

State and local media would suddenly become important in persuading legislators to support a particular candidate, while the corrupt establishment media of the Beltway would have almost no influence in presidential elections at all. 

Perhaps most importantly, diverse states with different ideological inclinations might find in the genuine restoration of the sort of federalism the Founders intended a common cause in rallying behind a presidential candidate willing to allow Hawaii to be Hawaii, Mississippi to be Mississippi, Vermont to be Vermont, Alaska to be Alaska…and so on. 

The natural complement to this reform would to convene a constitutional convention, which would require resolutions by 34 of the legislatures of the several states.  Republicans will control at the beginning of 2017 both houses of the legislature in 33 states, and if 2018 is a Republican year, then Republicans could easily capture control of Maine, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Washington – enough to convene and also to ratify amendments. 

The state legislature was intended to be the primary check on rogue national government.  If state legislators have the gumption to use their residual powers they can regain that vital check.  The best place to start, while dumb leftists are groaning about that nonexistent thing, the "popular vote" in presidential elections, is to strip that silly term of any meaning at all by having states again choose presidents.

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