National Popular Vote, a.k.a. “Koza Scheme”, has been working overtime in state legislatures to destroy one of the Founding Fathers’ greatest institutions the Electoral College. As a contributor to Save Our States, a group dedicated to defending and promoting the Electoral College, it is time to expose National Popular Vote for what it is — an end run around the Constitution.
Below is an updated (and extended) version of a column that appeared in Liberty Ink Journal.
National Popular Vote Threatens Our Republic
By Amy Oliver Cooke
Few things are more irritating than Americans mistakenly labeling our county a “democracy” rather than a constitutional republic. The difference between the two is crucial. In a democracy, the majority rules, often at the expense of minority rights. In a republic, power is vested in individuals and is exercised through their elected representatives.
Sadly, many citizens simply don’t know the difference, probably because they have never been taught. But what about those who do know the difference, yet still make the same claim that we are a “democracy”? It’s more than irritating; it’s dangerous.
In a commencement address at Hampton University President Barack Obama said information has become “a distraction, a diversion” that puts pressure on “our democracy.”
Besides his obvious contempt for the first amendment, President Obama’s claim that we are a “democracy” is frightening because as a former constitutional law professor and someone who sworn to protect the constitution certainly he should know better. This was not just a slip of the tongue.
The “democracy” drumbeat from the Left is a calculated misunderstanding and vital to the supporters of a dangerous movement called National Popular Vote (NPV), which employ the feel good myth of “every vote should count.”
NPV is a wealthy, California-based group with a long, bitter memory of the 2000 presidential election. They are dedicated to destroying the Electoral College, one of the most brilliant and least understood institutions contained within the Constitution.
NPV would replace the current winner-take-all electoral system in most states with a nation-wide, popular vote compact. According to Save Our States, a bi-partisan defender of the Electoral College, NPV would require states “to ignore the result within their state and instead give all of their electoral votes to the candidate winning the most votes nationwide.” When NPV is passed in enough states to add up to 270 electoral votes, the amount needed to win the presidency, the compact will go into effect.
Because the Constitution gives state legislatures the authority to decide how to award electors, NPV proponents can bypass the Constitution by cleverly introducing legislation in a number of state houses. Colorado has considered NPV legislation twice, once in 2007 and another time in 2009. Grassroots activism helped defeat it both times. (Colorado voters also soundly defeated a 2004 ballot measure to change how the state awards its electors from winner-take-all to a percentage of popular vote.)
To support NPV, one must believe the misguided notion that the United States is a democracy. If we were, the will of the states such as New York, California, New Jersey and Illinois could be thrust upon states like Colorado, Kansas, Utah, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Our Founding Fathers knew that states had different interests and did not want to see the desires of more populated states forced upon smaller ones. Thus, they created the Electoral College. The Electoral College forces presidential candidates and their supporters to campaign in a wide variety of areas, rather than concentrating on urban centers with large populations.
In the 2000 presidential election, the Electoral College did exactly what the Founding Fathers designed it to do. It didn’t matter that Al Gore had a popular vote plurality of less than one-half of one percent. (Thanks in part to the votes of California’s illegal aliens) It didn’t matter that Gore won the popular vote in both California and New York by huge percentages. To be president, he had to win a majority of the electoral votes, which means he had to win the popular vote in a wide variety of states.
If Gore had been able to win even a single southern or border state–such as his “home” state of Tennessee or Clinton’s home state of Arkansas, he would have been President. George W. Bush won the popular vote in 30 states, therefore giving him the necessary number of electoral votes to win the presidency. Middle America was able to avoid the tyranny of the East and West Coasts.
The Electoral College works, which is why it has not been changed in more than 200 years. It demonstrates our Founding Fathers’ commitment to the protection of minority rights, and the diverse interests of the entire nation–not just the biggest cities or states.
NPV does enjoy success in a few states. According to its Web site, seven states – Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey,Vermont, Massachusetts, Washington and Maryland – and the District of Columbia, with 77 electoral votes collectively, have enacted the bill. It’s also making its way through state legislatures in California, Connecticut, Delaware and Minnesota. If NPV is successful in these states, that would give the scheme 152 electoral votes, nearly 56 percent of what NPV needs to enact the popular vote compact – with just 11 states and the District of Columbia.
Adding electoral insult to injury, a recent NPV newsletter boasts, “The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia).” This sounds great except that an NPV state conceivably could be forced to throw its electors behind a candidate that doesn’t even appear on its ballot. All a candidate has to do is win big in several large urban areas, completely ignoring (not even bothering to get his name on the ballot) the center of the country.
At least one NPV proponent is truthful about this possibility. I give Damon Agnos credit for being honest in his blog at the Seattle Weekly. He is the first supporter of the Koza scheme (a.k.a. national popular vote) to admit the motive behind destroying the Electoral College. Agnos writes, “a national popular vote would disempower the staunchly Republican farm states in the middle of the country.” At least he doesn’t employ the “every vote should count” myth.
Furthermore, constitutional scholars predict that in a close vote where recounts are needed, NPV would throw the country into political chaos making the 2000 presidential election look tame because no state can force another into a recount. See NPV: Presidential chaos under Koza scheme for what could have happened if NPV had been in place in the 1960 election between democrat John F. Kennedy and republican Richard Nixon.
While supporting the Electoral College the late Senator Daniel Patrick Monyihan (D-New York) made the following prediction the floor of the Senate in June 1979 if the U.S. enacted a national popular vote:
There would be genuine pressures to fraud and abuse. It would be an election no one understood until the next day or the day after, with recounts that go on forever, and in any event, with no conclusion, and a runoff to come. The drama, the dignity, and decisiveness and finality of the American political system is drained away in an endless sequence of contests, disputed outcomes, and more contests to resolve outcomes already disrupted.
That is how legitimacy is lost. That is how a nation trivializes those solemn events that make for the singlemost important ingredient of a civil society, which is trust.
NPV is dangerous to our constitutional republic. Without the Electoral College, all a candidate has to do is win a plurality of the popular vote, even if that plurality comes mainly from a handful of mega-cities on the coasts. Under this scenario states like Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Kansas can only watch as the East and West Coasts anoint our next president.