Lennox: A case for Electoral College reform
Monday was one of those rare moments in American political history.
That’s because Americans for the first time in many years watched the Electoral College conclave in the 50 state capitals and the District of Columbia.
Most years there is scant mention of the Democratic or Republican grandees and apparatchiks who reliably cast their votes in the only presidential election with any constitutional significance.
This year, however, was different thanks to the political left’s concerted effort to stop Donald Trump from ascending to the presidency.
The left hoped that enough electors pledged to Trump would defy either state laws or well-established political conventions that award a state’s votes in the Electoral College to the candidate who won the most votes in that particular state.
Just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with the Electoral College. In fact, many voices across the political spectrum — liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican — believe reform is needed.
After all, nobody can really argue that the way America elects its president makes sense. Heck, I’m almost certain that most folks can’t even explain just how the president is elected.
The easiest solution would be reforming the system by making the winner of the popular vote the president.
The best reform plan I’ve seen comes from the aptly-named National Popular Vote, an interstate compact that has been enacted by 11 states worth 165 votes in the Electoral College.
In short, the National Popular Vote plan involves state legislatures adopting rules to give each state’s votes in the Electoral College to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes. Plain and simple.
I admit the name isn’t the greatest, as the localism and representative democratic principles of most Republicans make them instinctively opposed to any proposal with the words “national” or “popular” in its name.
Notwithstanding, National Popular Vote’s plan is clever in that it respects the role the Founding Fathers envisioned for states to play in the election of president.
It does this by preserving the Electoral College while at the same time making sure every vote counts.
That’s important, as right now Democratic and Republican presidential nominees ignore the vast majority of states.
Instead, only the small percentage of Americans living in less than a dozen battleground states are given any significant attention during the general election.
Just think of how the 2016 campaign might have played out had Trump competed for the votes of blue-collar voters in western and upstate New York or forced Hillary Clinton to spend time and money in California as opposed to say Virginia and New Hampshire.
Not only would Trump likely have still won, just as he did under the present rules of the game, but Republicans up and down the ballot in these ignored states could have also won.
The fact is many Republican-inclined voters in states like Illinois, New York and especially California aren’t motivated to vote when their state doesn’t matter.
National Popular Vote changes that by making the vote of every American in every state count.
Dennis Lennox is a Republican-aligned public affairs consultant. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.