Columnist: Elizabeth Warren wrong on the Electoral College

by WorldTribune Staff, March 21, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, has jumped on the bandwagon to ditch the Electoral College.

Warren said at a recent CNN town hall: “My view is that every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College.”

National Review Editor Rich Lowry noted in a March 20 op-ed that “The Constitution, where the workings of the Electoral College are set out at length, is impossible to change on a partisan basis. So the Electoral College isn’t going anywhere soon, although opponents are attempting an end run through a compact of states.”

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement among a group of states to award all their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote.

Colorado most recently joined the pact, which also includes California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

With Colorado’s nine electoral votes, the compact currently has 181 votes, 270 are needed to elect a president.

“The disproportion of this effort is notable,” Lowry wrote. “In 2016, Democrats rigged their nomination process in favor of a radioactive candidate who was uninterested in appealing to white working-class voters and operated on a deeply flawed view of the electoral map – and yet they blame her loss on a mechanism for electing presidents that has existed, with slight modification, since the adoption of the Constitution.”

Warren’s case against the Electoral College is that it supposedly ensures that some votes don’t matter: In heavily blue or red states, voters on the other side are effectively disenfranchised.

“This isn’t true,” Lowry wrote. “All votes are counted toward the outcome in every state. Voters from Republican, rural areas in California, for instance, aren’t disregarded; they are simply outnumbered.”

Lowry continued: “If it is the considered progressive view that this is tantamount to disenfranchisement, California could immediately mitigate the problem by splitting its electoral votes by congressional district the way Nebraska and Maine do. This would require no change to the U.S. Constitution, or elaborate schemes. Of course, California is loath to give up any of its solidly Democratic electoral votes.”

Concerning the issue of the legitimacy of the popular-vote winner losing the presidency, Lowry noted that “It’s understandable that Democrats feel aggrieved by how Hillary Clinton lost. But 2016 wasn’t a true test of the popular vote, given her opponent wasn’t contesting the campaign on those grounds. Trump’s team was, rightly, trying to eke out an Electoral College victory rather than run up the score in Republican states.”

Clinton “made the rubble bounce in California and New York, beating Trump by almost 2-1 margins, but that didn’t get her anything except greater permission to act the sore loser,” Lowry wrote. “What Democrats want is effectively to make California and New York the kingmakers in presidential politics, and not have to bother with the middle of country and smaller, more rural states. This is exactly the approach that the Electoral College is meant to foreclose, in favor of greater geographic diversity.”

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would go into effect when states equaling 270 electors join the compact.

“This arrangement would surely lose its allure as soon as it meant awarding the electoral votes of these states to Donald Trump, or any other Republican,” Lowry noted. “And, indeed, why should Connecticut or Illinois give its electors to a candidate its voters opposed?”

In the Trump era, “Democrats are in a perpetual state of panic,” Lowry wrote. “They should remember that the electoral map is always changing. Before 2016, it was thought the Electoral College favored Democrats. It shouldn’t be beyond their conceiving that they can win again under the long-established rules of America’s foundational governing document. If it’s true that they can’t, they have only themselves to blame.”

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