Staving Off the Tyranny of the Majority

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The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact threatens to undo the protections of the Electoral College and take away the will of smaller states in presidential elections.

According to Wikipedia, “the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an agreement among a group of U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact is designed to ensure that the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide is elected president, and it would come into effect only when it would guarantee that outcome. As of April 2019, it has been adopted by fourteen states and the District of Columbia. Together, they have 189 electoral votes, which is 35.1% of the Electoral College and 70% of the 270 votes needed to give the compact legal force.”

So, why didn’t our Founding Fathers just go with the National Popular Vote to elect our President and Vice President in the first place? Why did they establish the Electoral College? Perhaps they were familiar with tyranny? Perhaps they didn’t trust and were afraid of a “direct democracy?” And, James Madison feared that a faction could grow to equal a majority and sacrifice the public good and the rights of the other citizens.

Our brilliant Founders wanted to prevent the concentration of political power and the rise of tyranny. And as Alexis de Tocqueville later called it, “the tyranny of the majority.” Our Founders devised the Electoral College to assure that each state would be given fair representation and not base the votes on popularity, driven by highly populated areas in our country.

I live in Gunnison County, Colorado which is the 5th largest land mass county in Colorado. We are considered a “small county” due to our low population. However, we are represented in our state government through regional districts that are comprised of several counties combined based on population. This way, each district has equal population representation at the state capitol in both the senate and house. Seems fair, right?

What if each individual county was its own district and our representation was based on population? Denver County and other densely populated counties would have much greater representation (voice) than say, rural Colorado counties like Gunnison County. Do you think that would be fair? Would rural county’s voices even be heard? That is what we are headed for if the National Popular Vote method takes precedence over the current Electoral College in electing our president and vice president.

Less populated states like Wyoming, Montana, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and Idaho, to name a few, would be without representation in a presidential election. The 25 least populous states contain approximately one-sixth of the total population of our country. California, the most populous state, contains more people than the 21 least populous states combined. Therefore, highly populated states such as California, New York, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia could easily determine a presidential election leaving the remaining 38 states without a voice.

Colorado’s state legislators passed and the governor signed, a National Popular Vote bill that will hand Colorado’s 9 electoral votes over to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. They have joined other states in this National Popular Vote compact in the hopes of combining all of their electoral votes together to total 270 which is what is needed to win the presidency. And, they will award these 270 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. This is where the highest populous states will determine who becomes the president and vice president. Even if Colorado’s citizens vote for candidate A, if candidate B wins the national popular vote, candidate B will receive Colorado’s 9 electoral votes. Does that seem fair? Will rural Colorado votes even count? Will candidates even bother campaigning in less populated states or will they simply seek votes in the top 12 or so highly populated states? Is the very tyranny our Founders wished to avoid marching against our Constitutional Republic now?

Featured Author

Jane Chaney

Jane Chaney

Jane Chaney has been on the executive leadership team of the Gunnison County Republican Central Committee for 8 years, the 3 most recent and currently, she serves as Chairwoman. She retired 7 years ago as Executive Director of the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association and has lived in Crested Butte for 16 years.

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