Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates have introduced a bill that would allow presidential electors to be chosen based on the national popular vote, as part of a broader push among left-leaning activists to end the current Electoral College voting system.
“Every American citizen is created equal,” Del. Mark Levine (D-Arlington), who introduced HB 1933 told The Virginia Star. “We should all have an equal right to elect the President of the United States.”
Currently, states are assigned a certain number of electoral votes based on population, and the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote within that state is awarded all of the electoral votes. The only exceptions to this rule are Nebraska and Maine, which award two electoral votes to the winner of the state’s popular vote, and one electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each of the state’s congressional districts. Maine has two congressional districts. Nebraska has three.
But National Popular Vote Inc., a non-profit, seeks to change this fundamental arrangement, and has been lobbying for a compact known as the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote. So far 16 states, representing 196 electoral votes, have joined the compact. Those states include some of the bluest in the union – California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Virginia Democrats, led by Levine, want to join that compact.
“Under the compact, Virginia agrees to award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” HB 1933 says. “The compact goes into effect when states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have joined the compact.”
The bill says that Article II of the Constitution “gives the states exclusive and plenary authority to decide the manner of awarding their electoral votes,” thus allowing Virginia to change the manner by which it awards electoral votes.
But critics of the National Popular Vote say that electing a president based solely on the popular vote would bar Americans in lower-population states from having a say in electing the president.
“The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a terrible idea,” Catherine Mortensen said in an interview with The Star. “It would undermine the vote and disenfranchise voters in states that are of smaller populations in favor of large states such as California and New York, and even large metropolitan areas.”
Mortensen is the VP of Communications for a nonprofit called Americans for Limited Government.
In the Virginia Senate, an identical version of Levine’s bill, SB 1101, was struck down during a committee meeting on Tuesday by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria). Ebbin told The Star that he made the decision to kill the bill because it would not have enough votes to pass on the Senate floor.
The Electoral College was adopted at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, after rigorous debate. America’s Founders feared that a direct democracy, in which a slight majority could impose its will against the entirety of a large minority, would essentially become a mob rule.
James Madison said the following during the Convention:
[In a direct democracy], [a] common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert results from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths
Though the push to eliminate the Electoral College has existed for decades, the issue became mainstream in 2016, after Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million ballots, but ultimately lost the electoral vote to Donald Trump.
It has become a pet cause of the most far-left elected officials in Congress.
“It is well past time we eliminate the Electoral College, a shadow of slavery’s power on America today that undermines our nation as a democratic republic,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) said in 2018 during her congressional campaign.
It is well past time we eliminate the Electoral College, a shadow of slavery’s power on America today that undermines our nation as a democratic republic. https://t.co/00HZN3MI6F
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 6, 2018
She has railed against the Electoral College several times since then.
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