I am getting a lot of email about the National Popular vote asking me to change the way the electoral college works in our state. How the Electoral votes are appropriated is only one of two of the powers the state Legislators have been given in the US Constitution. The other is Article V which allows the states to propose amendments to the Constitution.
The National Popular Vote debate is picking up steam since Trump does not have a majority of the total national vote when adding up all votes cast in each state. Some of the argument is that voters feel their vote does not count and that if your state is not part of the battleground states you are at a disadvantage. One email said, “I’m tired of hearing that Ohio and Florida are the only states that matter in presidential elections. What about Arizona? Our votes should count too…”
I took a very hard look at this issue last session. I read the National Popular Vote manual and had many discussions with legislators and my constituents. Here is how I reasoned it out in my mind from the discussions that were held last year, from what I studied and read, and from my understanding of our government.
This national government was created by the states. Sovereignty is held by the states. The way to look at the Electoral College is that it is the States electing the president by the majority vote of the people who live in each state. As in every election cycle, the President is elected by a majority of each state’s electoral votes, which means the majority vote cast by the people in their respective states elected the President by their electoral votes going for that candidate. When you think about it, this is the way we preserve Federalism. Looking at the map in any election you will see that the majority of the states, by the majority vote of their citizens, did elect the President. Arizona did elect the president by the majority vote of our citizens, which means Arizona does count.
A true popular vote will only mean that highly populated states would prevail and the smaller states would not have a voice in the election which would mean that the citizens in those states would be at a disadvantage.
This nation was founded as a Republic using democratic processes to elect our leaders, but we are not a true Democracy. We are a nation ruled by law the federal and state constitutions. Educating our citizens on the founding principles is so important, as our Founders said, that without it we will not remain free.
Senator Sylvia Tenney Allen serves as President Pro Tempore in the Arizona State Senate. She is a native Arizonan representing Arizona’s 5th Legislative District.