Counterpoint

National Popular Vote: Right or wrong?

By Reade Brower | Mar 07, 2019

Paula and I have some agreement here, but we probably disagree on the premises and on the motivation.

Starting with where we agree, Paula writes: “Our founders developed the Electoral College to protect each state’s voice. With National Popular Vote legislation, presidential campaigns would concentrate on the larger states and ignore the smaller states, which would upset voters by rendering us irrelevant.”

She adds that NPV devalues states like Maine and ends her opinion piece with “One person, one vote may sound appealing, but our diverse country is composed of many distinct regions and each state deserves the recognition provided by the Electoral College. It fairly divides power between the national government and each state.”

Common sense tells us this is true. National politicians would spend most of their campaigning in high population states and cities. Further, we Mainers do not think like New Yorkers or Californians; if we want a voice, keeping the Electoral College is necessary. It is a balance, as Paula states, between giving power both nationally and to the individual state. It’s similar to each state, no matter its size, getting two and only two senators, while having the number of seats in the House of Representatives determined by population and through districting so maximum representation to localities is recognized: a noble goal.

This is where agreement probably ends.

While Paula promotes “fairness” in her agenda to wanting to defeat NPV, that hasn’t been the theme of most of her conservative Republican colleagues.

Many Republicans know well that both George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump did not get the popular vote mandate; the NPV does not serve their party and that is why they are against it. Instead, shouldn’t this be about fairness and giving all American citizens the rights and empowerment that come from voting?

If fairness is our commonsense goal, then getting rid of gerrymandering and promoting ranked-choice voting is “key.” Anything less, throws fairness out the window.

For years, gerrymandering redistricting has been a Republican mission in our state and throughout the country. Figuring where to draw the lines has been a political exercise; common sense taking a back seat to politics. Lines should be drawn pragmatically, but that’s not how it’s been done, that is not the “agenda” of the operatives hired to have lines drawn for one purpose only, to give advantage to those paying the bill.

Ranked-choice voting is also important. It is about empowering the voter; that has also not been part of the Republican playbook. The arguments against using ranked-choice voting are weak in that the opposition says with it, your vote has no power and it disenfranchises the voter.

Speaking as a voter, this is poppycock. How many times have voters chosen a candidate on the “stink factor”; they don’t want this person to win so they can’t vote for that person because a vote for that person is really a vote for this person that they think stinks.

Does that make sense and do we want to build our system around that mentality? It does make sense if you understand that Independents control the swing votes and many of them vote consistently Democratic, thus weakening the Democratic candidate.

Has the Independent party undermined Democratic candidates over the years; common sense says “yes.” How many different candidates would Independents have supported if they thought their first vote could be from their heart, and their second choice would be their safety? Ranked choice is more empowering, not less.

What currently happens is our system effectively limits the middle-of-the-roaders and gives more power to conservatives and the Republican right. Ranked-choice voting opens up the lane so you can vote your conscience, and by ranking candidates you get a plurality knowing our elected officials are wanted by more than 50 percent of the voters. What could be wrong with that? The answer is simply political; it isn’t good for Republicans. Why wouldn’t most Americans want to know that if their first choice doesn’t get in, their second choice will count and the “stink factor” eliminated?

If the goal of revamping voter rules is “key,” continue to invest in encouraging voters, rather than discouraging them. Of course they should have proper identification and a system that checks for one person, one vote, with heavy penalties for voter fraud. But, the policies should be inclusive and the poor, less-educated, and minorities should not be dismissed — all American citizens should mean all.

Voter suppression has been seen as part of the Republican agenda; using fear tactics and gerrymandering has been successful and they remain part of the playbook.

If we want fairness, let’s concentrate on these factors, rather than just preserving the Electoral College because it works in the favor of Republicans across our nation.

Reade Brower is the owner of these newspapers.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.