A bad idea gone viral

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A map you can see at http://click.heritage.org/NH00EM6s000yitT0TrZ0l3e shows the importance of each state if the U.S. Constitution were changed to make our election of president by popular vote rather than by the Electoral College. It vividly shows how the high population states would dominate. The reason that some have contacted my office expressing interest in changing to a popular vote system is that they are disappointed with the results on Nov. 8.

One can see that there would be a few major gainers and many more losing states. Virginia would be one of those losers.

That would not have been the case in the 1700s. At the time the constitution was written, Virginia’s population was more than double each of the other states. The compromise for an electoral college was to prevent Virginia from dominating every election. If Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts could agree on anything, the other 10 colonies would be left on the fringe with no voice at all.

The Electoral College gave them a say in elections. Maintaining the current process does not give Virginia the weight it did in colonial times, but it does help protect our interests.

Considering the integrity needed in an election, it is important that we do not allow our elections to be corrupted by a few states that allow lax election oversight to change the direction of the nation. Currently, in North Carolina, the results of the race for governor are in question because of reports of several counties having double voting, dead voters casting ballots and a judge allowing some jurisdictions to keep polls open longer than others. Do we really want our elections decided by folks who flaunt federal law, allowing illegals rights that are reserved for American citizens? California being the example with multiple sanctuary cities and state identifications issued to those they know to be illegally in the country.

Current federal law does, however, allow states to apportion their electoral votes as they see fit.

That might be an issue that is worth consideration. Maine and Nebraska each assign two electoral votes to whichever candidate gets the most votes statewide, then awards one vote for each Congressional district that a candidate carries.

As an example, Maine gave three votes to Hillary Clinton and one vote to Donald Trump.

Sometimes, when proposals to change our Constitution are made, they are not thought through well but are acted on based on what appears to be fair. An example of this was the amendment to popularly elect our U.S. Senators. Prior to that amendment, senators were selected by state legislators. As originally established, the Senate was to represent state legislators who were more local and understood the needs of their respective states. This gave balance between the House of Representatives, which faced the voters of a particular part of each state every two years, and the Senate, which was there to represent the interests of the state legislators.

Now, U.S. Senators are based only on their ability to win votes.

I hope this gives pause to the direct vote proponents.

I doubt it in the aftermath of a bitter election. Should Virginia agree to such action, the chance that 34 other states would agree to something that would be a detriment to many of them is highly unlikely.

Frank Ruff represents Charlotte in the Virginia Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.