Last month, Colorado’s legislature passed a bill intended to circumvent Article II of the U.S. Constitution, through which U.S. presidents are elected by a majority of Electoral College votes. Colorado joins 12 other states (and the District of Columbia) that want to cast their electoral votes for the candidate who wins the national popular vote, rather than follow their own election results.
In other words, if Candidate A wins the most Colorado votes, but Candidate B wins the national vote, all of Colorado’s electoral votes would go to B. The agreement is an attempt to ensure that the candidate who wins the most votes in a national election wins the presidency … rather than the winner of the most state electoral votes.
This is the opposite of what the nation’s founders intended. They envisioned the United States as a federation of individual states with varied interests, and sought to protect smaller states from domination by larger states. In electing presidents, the Electoral College is the mechanism designed to accomplish this.
The problem, in the minds of Electoral College foes, is that occasionally the winner of the national popular vote doesn’t win the majority of Electoral College votes. This has happened five times since the nation’s founding, most recently George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016.
Critics (especially Democrats) don’t like this. They think the winner of the most national votes should be president. If this happens, however, the losers wouldn’t be hard to identify — and Nebraskans would be among those at the top of the list.
If there is one thing politicians do well, it is counting potential voters. Large states such as California, Florida, Texas and New York would be the focus of presidential campaigns (and promises). Presidential candidates would have little incentive to seek support from voters in small states such as Nebraska, Iowa, the Dakotas and Wyoming, which combined equal slightly more than 20 percent of California’s population.
Critics of the Electoral College claim it is undemocratic, but they are wrong … unless they define democracy as mob rule. In our nation, the interests of minorities are deliberately and elaborately protected by the Constitution. Simple majorities do not rule in all instances.
The Electoral College is a central part of federalism, in which states exercise important roles in determining the direction of the nation. It has served our country well for more than 200 years and deserves support, not disapproval.