Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
A brilliant constitutional scholar and champion of America between the coasts like Sen. Ted Cruz should be leading the charge for a national popular vote that fully preserves the constitutionally important Electoral College.
Cruz, after all, has spent his entire political career as senator from Texas fighting for the farmers, ranchers, business owners, and working families presidential candidates ignore in a quest for the handful of battleground states that actually determine who wins.
That’s why I hope Cruz will reconsider the thumbs down he tweeted after the Virginia House of Delegates voted to add the commonwealth to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (already adopted by 15 states plus the District of Columbia).
The question is this: Should presidential campaigns be 50-state contests in which the decisions of every voter in every state count? Or is it better to continue a system in which campaigns ignore most Americans by focusing only on the votes of swing states?
The fact is, we can’t be for “we the people” if we are also afraid of the people.
Under the compact, states that combine for at least 270 electoral votes — enough to elect a president — simply agree to award those votes to the candidate who wins the most popular votes across all 50 states and D.C. Virginia’s 13 electoral votes would give the compact 209 electoral votes; just 61 short of becoming effective.
Any way you look at it — from the standpoint of the Constitution, small states and rural states, voter participation, the integrity of our elections, to say nothing of the partisan fortunes of Republicans and conservatives — a national popular vote make sense.
A national popular vote under the compact is in keeping with the Constitution. Article 2, Section 1 specifically grants state legislatures the power to allocate their electoral votes in any way they wish. In fact, the state-by-state, winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the Constitution, was not brought up during the 1787 constitutional convention, and is nowhere to be found in the Federalist Papers.
In addition, voters in rural states and small states — many of which run red — would finally become politically relevant under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. That’s because candidates would be compelled to campaign across all 50 states in order to garner the votes they need to win 270 electoral votes and the presidency. No more battleground states.
This is not a new idea. As Sen. Bob Dole put it in a 1979 floor speech: “I think we would see a resulting change in the nature of campaigning. While urban areas will still be important campaigning centers, there will be a new emphasis given to smaller states. Candidates will soon realize that all votes are important.”
Voters who don’t go along with the majority in their states would also see their votes actually count toward the national outcome. The current winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes, used by most but not all states, disenfranchises millions of Americans. (By the way, this is exactly why James Madison, the father of the Constitution, opposed winner-take-all.)
Republican voters in Vermont stay home. Same for Democrats trapped behind the red wall in Kansas. But under a national popular vote, every voter in every state counts.
A national popular vote should also boost voter turnout in presidential elections — a decided advantage for Republicans in what has always been a right-of-center country.
A presidential election decided under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would go a long way toward addressing the concerns President Donald Trump, Cruz and others raise over voter fraud. That’s because it would be impossible to alter the millions of votes it would take to fraudulently elect a president.
Under the current method, a relatively few tainted ballots could swing a state’s electoral votes, and, as a result, a presidential election, from one candidate to another.
Another added benefit for partisans is that Cruz’s home state of Texas, increasingly seen as competitive if not on a trajectory toward Democratic blue, would remain in the GOP column under a national popular vote even if in-state demographics favor Democrats.
Ray Haynes is a senior consultant to the National Popular Vote, a non-profit organization. As a Republican, he served in both the California State Senate and the California State Assembly. Haynes was also national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council.