Because of third parties, we've had many elections (including three of the last four) when no presidential candidate received a popular-vote majority. Abraham Lincoln won less than 40 percent of the popular vote and relied on his Electoral College majority for his authority.
Basing the election on a plurality of the popular vote while ignoring the states would be like the New York Yankees claiming they won the 1960 World Series because they outscored the Pirates in runs 55-27 and in hits 91-60. No one challenges the fact that the Pirates fairly won that Series, 4 games to 3.
The fact that most elections are very close makes the Electoral College particularly advantageous. With our loose election procedures (that need to be reformed in several ways), it's easy to make credible charges of election fraud. We remember the Florida recount in 2000 and the attempt to recount Ohio in 2004.
If the popular vote were controlling, chaos would be the predictable result in any close election.
An allegation of voter fraud in one state would begin a fatal chain reaction of challenges and recounts as campaign managers try to scrape up additional hundreds of votes in many states at once.
The elimination of the Electoral College would overnight make irrelevant the votes of Americans in about 25 states because candidates would zero in on piling up votes in large-population states.
Big-city machines would take over, and candidates from California or New York would enjoy a built-in advantage.
The Electoral College provides an essential safeguard against the democratic factionalism decried by James Madison in Federalist Paper 10. The Electoral College ensures that no single faction or issue can elect a president because he must win many diverse states to be elected.
The slogan for the Campaign for the National Popular Vote, "Every Vote Equal," is stunningly dishonest because the campaign's proposal is based on legalizing vote-stealing and on changing the rules of presidential elections by a compact of as few as 11 states instead of the 38 states needed to amend the Constitution. The campaign should be repudiated before it goes any further.
The campaign proposal would also eliminate the constitutional role of Congress in dealing with the occasional happenstance of a candidate failing to get a majority of Electoral College votes. The Constitution dealt adequately with this problem in 1824.
The Campaign for the National Popular Vote plan has been editorially endorsed by the New York Times, which called the Electoral College "an antidemocratic relic." The New York Times could demonstrate its devotion to democracy by adopting a democratic one share-one vote system of control of its own newspaper instead of its current system that locks in a preferential voting category for the Sulzberger family holdings.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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