Currently there is a bill being presented by Democratic Representative Kelda Helen Roys (81st District), Assembly Bill #751, calling for a change in the way that Wisconsin's Electoral College votes are awarded. Specifically, Roys wants to see the winner of the nation's popular votes receive Wisconsin's ten electoral votes.
This is wrong. The Electoral College wasn't created without very serious thought behind it. Roys needs to read the Constitution and understand WHY our nation uses an electoral college in presidential elections.
Our Founding Fathers were amazing. The Constitution they wrote centuries ago, to guide our great nation, had the foresight and intelligence to address many of the current issues and problems we face today. When drafting the Constitution, the founders actually considered a direct popular vote, then dismissed it. They feared a popular vote would favor candidates from larger states, with larger populations. At the time they also debated allowing Congress to elect the President. That idea too, was shot down.
The Electoral College was the solution. And it exists in our Constitution to balance the rights of the individual states in having a say in electing presidents. The Electoral College addresses the fact that our country is made up of individual states. We are not one big state. On the campaign trail, presidential candidates are aware that they cannot target only certain states and/or cities with large populations if they hope to win. They have to campaign in the heartland - not just the left (oops!) west or east coasts.
If our candidates for President were chosen solely on a national popular vote, Wisconsin and the majority of midwest states wouldn't see a political candidate on the campaign trail. Why would such candidates bother? For the few electoral votes states with much smaller populations in the heartland could provide, a political candidate would be better off targeting Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago. Chicago alone has a larger population than our entire state! Big states with big cities would decide who our president would be. And that is where the problem lies with a "national popular vote."
The Electoral College provides a balance. It seeks to moderate those who may be too extreme for voters. For example, under our current system, it would be impossible for a few big cities with a specific political agenda or interest to force it's views upon a nation. The Electoral College promotes moderation.
From the National Review article: "Want a Real Constitutional Crisis?" by James R. Edwards Jr. (2/2/02) comes the following points:
"The electoral college fosters moderation and compromise. A candidate who could win the presidency by popular election alone would look very different from one chosen by a majority of all the state's electors. Not only the winner, but all presidential candidates would look less like Bush and Gore and more like Ralph Nader or Lyndon LaRouche."
Edwards goes on to state: "The candidates able to win the White House by a simple majority - or more likely, a plurality of the popular vote - would hold more extreme positions on more divisive issues.
For comparison, consider a typical House candidate and his state's U.S. Senate candidates. While Senate candidates must attract broad support from the diversity of the state's electorate, the more homogeneous House districts are represented by such liberals as Maxine Waters and such conservatives as Bob Barr. The campaign issues in a House race also reflects more localized, harder stances. Presidential candidates, on the other hand, hold more moderate positions on national issues. Thank the electoral college system for this."
As the Senate tempers the legislative impulses of the "people's house," so does the electoral college temper the extremes among the electorate. George Washington was said to have remarked, "We pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it." The electoral college serves the same purpose in the selection of presidents."
Edwards mentions all the problems a "popular vote" would create including: "the nation would experience acrimony, extremism, factionalism, endless recounts, a weakened president elected by plurality, and the loss of important protections of minority rights. Every four years, we'd have a true Constitutional Crisis. If you liked the Florida recounts, you'll love direct presidential elections."
So if you don't want Los Angeles and New York City choosing our presidents for us in the future, contact your Wisconsin representatives to voice your opposition to Rep. Kelda Helen Roys proposed legislation - "The National Popular Vote Bill #751."
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