Jonathan Soros: It's Time to Junk the Electoral College





[Mr. Soros is the deputy chairman of Soros Fund Management and a supporter of the National Popular Vote.]

... The Constitution is no longer in line with our expectations regarding the role of the people in selecting the president. Yet several previous attempts to eliminate the Electoral College through a constitutional amendment have failed, scuttled by the difficulty of the process itself and the tyranny of small-state logic.

Fortunately, a constitutional amendment is not necessary. Rather than dismantling the Electoral College with an amendment, we can use the mechanisms of the Electoral College itself to guarantee popular election of the president.

To understand how the proposal works, one needs to understand two basic principles. First, that state legislatures are basically unfettered in how they choose to appoint electors. And second, that groups of states can enter into binding agreements with one another in the form of so-called interstate compacts. There are many examples of such compacts, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the interstate agreement that guarantees a driver points on a Virginia driver license when he or she speeds in Maryland.

Under the proposed National Popular Vote compact, state legislatures would agree to choose electors who promise to support the winner of the nationwide popular vote. For example, if a Republican were to win the overall national popular vote, even if New Yorkers favored the Democrat, New York's Electoral College votes would go to the Republican. The compact will go into force when states representing 271 Electoral College votes have entered into it to guarantee that the winner of the popular vote will become president.

It is ironic that the most common objection to the National Popular Vote compact is the suggestion that it is antifederalist. In fact, interstate compacts lie at the very core of federalism: individual states combining their powers to solve a problem. In this case, they would be joining forces to allow their citizens to act as one nation in the selection of their president.

The National Popular Vote compact has already been enacted by four trailblazing states -- Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii -- and has been introduced in 41 others. It's time that the rest of them got on board.



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