by Cody Hensarling
In 2008, the Hawaii State Legislature overturned Governor Lingle’s veto to pass legislation affirming the National Popular Vote.
This legislation, which the legislature has the authority to overturn, serves primarily as an attempt to destroy the Electoral College as the method of electing the President of the United States.
The bill would have Hawaii cast its four votes in the Electoral College for the winner of the national popular vote, disregarding the vote conducted on the state level for President. While Hawaii is by no means the only state to sign on to NPV, it is certainly one of the least likely states to have signed the compact. Put frankly, the NPV disadvantages smaller states; as which, if Hawaii hadn’t already noticed, Hawaii is classified.However, the NPV should be opposed not just because it decreases the relative power of Hawaii in choosing a President, but also for three main reasons.
- It’s unconstitutional.
Make no mistake about it; the reason why the NPV is being offered through state legislatures and not in the US House of Representatives/Senate is because the backers of the NPV are trying to circumvent the Constitution. While those who support the NPV would argue that states are allowed to choose Electoral College electors in any manner that they would choose, this method of replacing the Electoral College seeks to bypass the Constitutional Amendment process. Changing the way we elect a President is a ground-breaking change; a change that every American should have the right to which to object. We have a method to ensure this is the case. We should follow this method rather than letting a few states dictate to the rest how the nature and structure of American political society should change.
- It’s a logistical nightmare.
In the words of John Fund, who recently touched on this subject while addressing the Smart Business Hawaii annual conference, “Did you enjoy the Florida recount in 2000? How would you like every state to be Florida in 2000?” The major issue with Florida is that the nation’s future hinged on votes in two counties, which opened up the potential for fraud, abuse, and legal challenges. By making every county in the United States a potential swing vote, the incentives for fraud are astronomical. The NPV encourages fraudulent behavior on the part of the voting populace, which is not a good idea.
- It potentially robs the President of a popular mandate.
In November 2011, the Heritage Foundation published an essay in opposition to the NPV. One of the reasons they gave in objection to the movement was that it encourages the rise of third parties because the NPV only requires a plurality of voters to pick the President. Under this system, it is possible that a President could be elected with 35 or even 25% of the popular vote. How would this President govern? How could this President even know what the public thought of his or her policies? This system creates confusion as to the public will regarding the President’s policies, which is a dangerous plan.
Hawaii made the wrong decision in 2008 when they sought to destabilize the Electoral College. It is my sincerest hope that this poor decision is reversed before it can negatively affect us all.