Will a Close Election Put Electoral College on the Chopping Block? (Part 1 of 3)

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
10/29/2012
       
Will a Close Election Put Electoral College on the Chopping Block? (Part 1 of 3)

In a three-part series, we explore the threat to the Constitution posed by a call for the winner of the presidential election to be decided by a national popular vote.

On Saturday, October 27, an ABC News article asked, “Would Electoral Win Without Popular Vote be Swan Song for Swing States?”. The piece goes on to offer some scholarly opinions on “the pros and cons of our current Electoral College system.” One of those ivy tower denizens cited in the ABC News article is Alex Keyssar, a professor of history and social policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Keyssar sees the electoral college — particularly the way it functions in modern presidential elections — to be a “deformed version” of what the founders intended.

Professor Keyssar’s remedy for the irreparable damage being done to our nation by the two-party duopoly controlling presidential politics is to scrap the electoral college and award the White House to the candidate winning the majority of the popular vote. "My own view is that a popular vote system would make the institutions in this country keep up with changes that have been going on in the social fabric of the country for 200 years," Keyssar tells ABC News.

Politico offers another seemingly sarcastic solution: “The answer, of course, is for one of the candidates to win a clear Electoral College majority. We should all hope for that outcome, because the alternative could be a nightmare for our political system.”

ABC appears hopeful for the chaos that an electoral college collapse would cause when it recounts a bit of recent history of the effort to supplant the electoral college with a popular vote count:

There is an effort — Natonal Popular Vote — which has been ratified by eight states, to basically create a legal agreement among states to keep the electoral college, but award the votes proportionally instead of by state.

But it isn't a Constitutional amendment and there are concerns that a broad agreement by some states would violate the Constitution.

An article published on a Justia blog predicts that a Romney electoral college loss combined with a popular vote win could energize the efforts to neuter the electoral college.

Because up until now, all of the states that have adopted the NPV bill have been Blue states — states that are generally assumed to lean towards the Democratic, rather than the Republican, candidate for President. And unless a Red state joins soon, it will become increasingly hard to debunk the (wrongheaded) fear that Red state folks have that the National Popular Vote bill is a Democratic scheme, rather than a democratic idea.

Click here to read the entire article.

Photo of South Dakota electors voting during the 2004 presidential election: AP Images

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