Commentary: Delaware General Assembly wasting time on National Popular Vote

Enough with the gimmicks. The National Popular Vote Initiative (NPVI) has come to Delaware, but it should just go away. And if this ill-advised alteration to our prized presidency is invoked, it will be rejected by the Supreme Court.

The Electoral College procedure for selecting the chief executive must be appreciated for its etiology: at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, it was offered as a compromise between legislative appointment and popular election. It is likewise critical to understand that this procedure was proposed along with two other integral elements of the executive office: a single person and a short term. That the American political system has achieved universal suffrage does not mean we should transform our republic into a pure democracy.

Dr. Samuel B. Hoff

The Electoral College procedure is indicative of the state-oriented approach to government which preceded the Constitution. Even when the latter document replaced the Articles of Confederation, the new Federal system gave states authority over a plethora of areas, including selection of senators prior to the 17th Amendment, ratification of constitutional amendments, and control over statewide elections.

However, that power did not and does not now extend to unilaterally changing the presidential election process by substituting a national vote for statewide results. In this area, state sovereignty is secondary to the Constitution’s supremacy clause.

Without the current procedure, Delaware will lose its equal status with other states in selecting a presidential winner in the instance that is necessary. Further, it is possible that Delaware’s presidential election victor will not be the national vote winner, as was the case in 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016.

Perhaps supporters in the Delaware Senate, which just approved the NPVI bill, were aware of the latter record. As State Sen. Colin Bonini reminded his colleagues during the debate on NPVI, Delaware’s legislators will be on the hook to explain to constituents how their vote for president was negated.

According to the NPVI scenario, the interstate compact which the pipe dream is based on will kick in once a number of states totaling 270 electors approve it. [Presently, 11 states have signed up for NPVI, with Colorado and Delaware poised to join the fraud.] Huh?

It looks like supporters of NPVI are ignorant of both constitutional precept and political reality. Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution prevents interstate compacts without Congress’s assent, and the Republican-controlled Senate is not about to reverse course on its previous rejection of NPVI.

Delaware is blessed to have an efficient voting system which has experienced few troubles in recent election cycles. Not so with other states.

State Sen. Bryant Richardson was right to point out that NPVI puts too much faith in other states’ systems. The specter of multiple state recounts to reach a national consensus is too scary to contemplate.

The Delaware House of Representatives gets a third shot at NPVI after approving a similar initiative in 2009 and 2011. So either the third time will be a charm or curse for the state. If done in the manner currently proposed rather than by the only legitimate method — the Constitutional amendment process — supporters will be perpetually cursing the Supreme Court for its certain canceling of this farce.

Memo to Delaware General Assembly: Let’s get back to the people’s business and drop this monkey business.

Dr. Samuel B. Hoff is George Washington Distinguished Professor of History and Political Science and Law Studies Program Director at Delaware State University. He teaches and publishes extensively on the presidency and constitutional issues.

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