Dec 19, 2022
The Electoral College is under bitter attack by Democrats and has been for decades. After the 2000 presidential election, Hillary Clinton told reporters, “it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president.” Twenty years later, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren advocated abolishing the Electoral College while running for president.
The Electoral College is a friend to those who believe in limited government and our federalist system. We must save it.
The Electoral College is emblematic of the benefits of federalism. The United States is a continental nation that includes multiple cultures, values and points of view. An individual cannot win the presidency by merely pandering to coastal population centers.
The Electoral College guarantees that a president can only be elected (and re-elected) by appealing to a broad base of Americans. In short, the Electoral College is the Founders’ answer to a potential tyranny of the majority.
While brilliant, our system of choosing a chief executive has, from time to time, required improvement. For example, the 12th Amendment provided for separate electoral votes for President and Vice President, a solution required after the controversial elections of 1796 and 1800. Decades later, Congress enacted the Electoral Count Act to resolve the dilemma posed by the election of 1876 in which several states sent competing slates of electors to Congress.
The Electoral College is worth saving but, without reform, I fear the calls for abolishing the Electoral College might succeed.
Recent elections uncovered defects in Congress’s interaction with the Electoral College. Federal law currently leaves ambiguous the role of the Vice President in counting electoral votes and allows an incredibly low threshold – just one member of the House and Senate – to object to a state’s election results.
For years, these shortcomings were exploited by both parties resulting in a form of political theater.
In 2021, the theater act went too far and culminated in a mob disrupting the joint session of Congress to certify the presidential election. At the time, I wrote that a vote to overturn the election would doom the Electoral College forever. A misguided effort to curry short-term favor with political allies could have resulted in the destruction of the institution our Founders devised to ensure that the voice of every American across our vast country is heard.
Congress has the opportunity to preserve and strengthen the states’ role in conducting presidential elections.
The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act is a bipartisan bill designed to ensure that Congress obeys state law. Unless the laws or constitution of a state identify another official to do so, the reformed Electoral Count Act designates the governor to certify the state’s presidential electors to prevent different officials from sending competing slates of electors to Congress.
Additionally, the bill makes clear that the Vice President is to play a solely ministerial role in the counting of electoral votes.
The legislation also increases the threshold that would trigger a congressional debate on objections to a state’s election results to one-fifth of each the House and Senate, meaning that the transfer of power would not provide an occasion for frivolous challenges.
In other words, this legislation preserves the Founders’ intent that the laws and election results of the several states are respected.
Conservatives should realize that reforming the Electoral Count Act is necessary to protect the Electoral College from left-wing attempts to abandon it completely.
Our Founders provided us with an ingenious system for representative government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed without descending into a tyranny of the majority. The responsibility of each generation has been to preserve this system.
Enacting the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act into law will help demonstrate, both to our citizens and to the world, that our republican form of government, which respects the laws of the sovereign states and the various perspectives of individuals throughout our common country, will long endure.
You can read the op-ed HERE.