Kicking the Electoral College to the curb
Flimsy argument against National Popular Vote
Jennifer C. Braceras (“Maine avoids political suicide — for now,” Opinion, June 10) has mischaracterized the National Popular Vote. First, this interstate compact is indeed constitutional and unlikely to be overturned by the Supreme Court, because it leaves the selection of Electoral College delegates in the hands of state legislatures. Legislatures have always been free to choose their own method, according to the US Constitution; note that Nebraska and Braceras’s home state of Maine already have a different method than other states.
As the National Popular Vote website explains: “The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is state law. It is not in the US Constitution. The winner-take-all rule was used by only three states in 1789, and all three repealed it by 1800. It was not until the 11th presidential election (1828) that even half the states used winner-take-all laws.” It is established precedent that states may change their method of choosing electors, and if the voters of any state are unhappy with the compact, they can always change it again.
Braceras also mischaracterizes the impact on so-called rural states. The current winner-take-all system, besides being egregiously unrepresentative of the will of the majority of Americans, favors swing states. Period. When was the last time a candidate in the general election visited Vermont or Kentucky? Or the rural areas of Illinois? In 2012, the candidates limited their visits to just 12 states — notably, Maine was not among them.
Electoral College is great — for Republicans
Jennifer C. Braceras’ op-ed is a disingenuous defense of the Electoral College.
First, she states that “upsets” — winners losing the popular vote — are rare. Well, it has happened in two of the last five elections, and it’s a good bet to occur again soon. Braceras then claims that under the current system, winning candidates earn support from a broader cross-section of voters than their opponents. Really? Donald Trump voters — overwhelmingly white, straight, and rural — were more diverse than the mix of white, black, Latino, and Asian; straight and LGBTQ; and urban and suburban voters who supported Hillary Clinton?
What Braceras really means is that the Electoral College maintains an outsized voice for low-population states and — surprise — Republicans. Consider: California has one elector for every 720,000 residents; Maine has one for every 333,000. Yet Braceras thinks “a nationwide popular vote would surely be unfair to Maine.” Californians might disagree.
One person, one vote is a cornerstone of democracy. The Founders violated this principle to form a nation. Conservatives now defend our kludgy electoral system out of political expediency. Notice how they tout voter power for small states but are silent when Republican-led legislatures deploy gerrymandering and voter suppression techniques to disenfranchise Democrats and minorities.