Contact: Lance Cayko
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 2/13/19
Death of the Republic 2
by Mike Lopez
The National Popular Vote (NPV) agreement passed the House Military and Veterans Affairs committee late on Tuesday night on a party line vote. Representative Jeni Arndt (D) of Fort Collins and Emily Sirota (D) presented to the committee some of the ways that they believe the NPV will fix the problems with the Electoral College. Among the issues that the representatives are allegedly trying to address are: Ending the practice of “winner take all,” ending disproportionate presidential campaign visits to the states, increasing voter participation, and eliminating the advantage that smaller states have in presidential elections.
At this point, you may be saying to yourself: “Those are honorable goals, why would anyone oppose an agreement that makes our presidential elections more fair?” This is a fair question, and it is the question many people are left to ask when the are presented with the idea of a popular vote. In theory, we can all agree that a popular vote is the way that things should be done, because that is the way that we do everything else in our country. There is a problem though, and it’s a problem that can’t easily be fixed, despite what anyone claims.
The agreement does not eliminate the Electoral College, nothing but a constitutional amendment can do that, and constitutional amendments are very difficult to pass. So, what is the Electoral College and how does it work? Here are the basics: each state is assigned a number in the Electoral College. That number represents the number of representatives in each state, plus two senators. The number of representatives in each state is based on population. Colorado’s number is 9, because we have 7 representatives and 2 senators. Each state then holds a mini popular vote, and the winner then gets all of the electoral votes of that state.
Representatives Sirota and Arndt argued that our current system of “winner take all” in the electoral college is undemocratic, and ignores the voices of those who were in the minority, such as Colorado Republicans in the 2016 election. They further argued that the NPV would fix this issue, and provide a voice to everyone in the country. During the public hearing, all of the representatives were asked if they could raise their hands to signify that they had read the bill. They all raised their hands. This point is very important, because it demonstrates that they knew what they were going to agree to.
Things get a little tricky here. A presidential candidate needs to win more than half of the 538 available electoral votes to win the presidency, which comes out to 270. Why are there 538 electoral votes? That’s a long story, but the short version is, congress got lazy and froze all state representation there based on the population of the country in 1910. The “national popular vote” agreement goes into effect when enough states sign on to reach the magic number of 270, which means there are 268 electoral votes still available in states that have not signed the agreement. Did you catch that? The agreement does not need the other 268 electoral votes (a little less than half of the country) to go into effect.
Without the agreement, each state holds its own mini popular vote and gives the winning candidate all of their votes. The “National Popular Vote agreement” does the same thing, except that it treats each state in the agreement as one big state. That is to say, the NPV agreement treats 20 or more states as if they were one, with the winner getting all 270 votes instead of winning small pieces at a time.
There are two major things to notice here: The NPV can ignore 49% of the country, and whomever wins the popular vote in the other 51% will get all of the electoral votes needed to win. Our representatives knew these facts before they voted, because they raised their hands when they were asked if they read the agreement. They knew that the NPV agreement is not a truly national popular vote, and they knew that it is a “winner take all” system. Representatives Sirota (D), Arndt (D), Jaquez Lewis (D), Duran (D), Lontine (D), and Melton (D) all argued that the signing the NPV would increase voter representation, while fully knowing that the agreement ignores 49% of the country, as well as anyone who is not in a major city.
The Libertarian party of Colorado urges all voters who believe in fair and equal representation to call or email their representatives, and tell them to vote no on the National Popular Vote Agreement.
Michael Lopez is a freelance writer, entrepreneur, and libertarian who is dedicated to protecting the union that our founders established for us. You can read more of his thoughts at www.deadletters.org
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Lance Cayko at 303.775.7406 or email at CommunicationsDirector@LPColorado.org.