Date: July 22, 2016
Host: Jim Schneider
Guest: Hans von Spakovsky
With election talk seemingly everywhere there’s debate once again over how we vote for the president. Should it be via the electoral system as outlined in our Constitution or should it be changed to a national popular vote?
Jim looked at this issue with Hans von Spakovsky who is a legal senior fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. He is an authority on a number of issues including that of voter fraud and voter ID, enforcement of federal voting rights laws, administration of elections and voting equipment standards and protecting the integrity of elections. Before joining Heritage in 2008, he served two years as a member of the Federal Election Commission, the authority charged with enforcing campaign finance laws for congressional and presidential elections. He has also formerly worked at the Justice Department.
Article 2 section 1 of the Constitution deals with the election process for president of the U.S. This is accomplished through the electoral college. In this system, each state gets a certain number of electoral college votes. So when you enter the voting booth, you are actually voting for the electoral college delegate who will then vote for the president.
Hans explained that the reason for implementation of the electoral college system is due to the fact that the founders were concerned with making sure that rural, less populated areas of our nation would not be neglected. They assumed that if we had a national popular vote, candidates would only have to go to big cities and urban areas and they could ignore the rest of the nation in order to secure election to office.
Under our electoral college system, each state gets the number of votes equal to the number of senators and congressmen they have. This means that even the smallest states have at least 3 electoral college votes. It’s true that candidates won’t spend as much time in those states but at least they won’t be totally neglected, which they would, under a national popular vote system.
John Koza, creator of the scratch-off lottery ticket, has been instrumental in the push for the national popular vote idea. This idea is a state compact or agreement between the states. 11 have already passed it. Once enough states have passed it that represent 270 electoral college votes, the compact then goes into force and each state that passed it agrees that the electoral college votes in their state will be awarded not based upon the vote in their state but instead upon the national popular vote.