Constitutional Electoral College System Under Attack

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Air Date: January 6, 2015

Host: Jim Schneider

Guest: Trent England

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Trent England serves as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and directs the Center for the Constitution & Freedom. Trent is National Coordinator for Liberty Foundation of America and an adjunct fellow of the Freedom Foundation and has directed the foundation’s ‘Save Our States’ project. He is a contributor to two books,’The Heritage Guide to the Constitution’ and ‘One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty.’

How does the electoral college system work? As Trent described it, near the beginning of Article 2 Section 1 of the Constitution it tells us how the president is to be elected. It’s to be state-by-state. The political power is distributed exactly the same as it is in Congress. The smallest states get 3 electoral votes based upon their two members of the U.S. Senate and their single member of the House. On the other end of the scale you have a large state like New York that has 2 Senators and 27 House members for a total of 29 electoral votes. Each state is then given the power to decide how to represent itself with those votes and according to Trent, this is what the popular vote/electoral college controversy is all about.

The state holds an election between the candidates for president and whoever gets the most votes in that state gets all the electoral votes from that state. Thomas Jefferson came up with that idea because it maximized the political impact of Virginia in his day.

There are two exceptions. In Nebraska and Maine they break up their electoral votes. They do the same with two of their electoral votes but they apportion out the electoral votes that represent each congressional district. This means that in 2012, President Obama won a single electoral vote from Nebraska.

The main point to remember is that under the electoral college system, each state gets to represent itself. Trent believes that the national popular vote is an attempt to trick states into giving away their electoral votes based upon the nationwide outcome.

Would a national popular vote affect the Constitution? Does the concept of a national popular vote bring more power to the people in terms of the democratic strength of their votes as we might be led to believe or is it actually just the opposite? Who are the movers and shakers in the national popular vote movement? These are just a few questions that are answered on this vital edition of Crosstalk.

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