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In Defense of the Republic

Published in the Pueblo Chieftain February 3, 2019 Published in the Denver Post February 5, 2019

The Colorado State Legislature is on the verge of signing away the voices of the citizens of our great state in a severely mistaken attempt at greater representation in presidential elections. Senate bill 19-042 is an interstate agreement to cast electoral votes for the winner of a “national popular vote.” The agreement calls for a mock vote of presidential and vice-presidential candidates in states that have enacted the agreement—and only in those states—one week before the actual election. Each member state must then cast its electoral votes for the winner of the popular vote, regardless of how the citizens in each individual state voted.

270 electoral votes are needed to win a presidential election. Twelve states have signed the agreement being considered in Colorado, representing 172 electoral votes. When enough states have signed on to reach 270 electoral votes, the agreement will go into effect. There are major implications to adopting such an agreement in Colorado, not least of which is that by signing this agreement, we are saying that we are willing to be forced to vote the way that the other member states vote, regardless of what we think.

This means that if the majority of Coloradans go against the popular vote, we are still required, by law, to cast our electoral votes for the candidate that we don’t want. Far from addressing the very real problem of underrepresentation, this policy guarantees that many millions of people in several states have absolutely no representation.  You may be saying to yourself “That’s the way it is now. That’s why we need to eliminate the Electoral College.” However, you should consider the fact that this agreement doesn’t require every state to adopt it. Nor does it matter if all 5 million Coloradans vote for one candidate, if most of the member states vote for the other.

There is no doubt that there is a problem with how we, as citizens, are represented. That being said, an agreement which intentionally ignores the voices of millions upon millions of people, literally forcing them to go against their will, is not the answer to the problem. Ironically enough, the Electoral College is the only way to ensure that we are fairly represented in presidential campaigns, but first we need to understand what the Electoral College is.

The Electoral College, with its 535 votes, is a stand in for the 435 House representatives  and the 100 Senators in the United States Congress. Prior to 1911, the number of representatives in the House would go up or down depending on the population in each state; with the only requirement being that there be no more than one representative for every 30,000 people. In 1911 the United States Congress could not agree on how many representatives each state should receive, so they froze the number at 433 with the Apportionment Act of 1911. In 1929, there was an amendment to the bill which changed the number to 435 and distributed representatives based on population, but would never increase the number of representatives for distribution.

Our  system is broken, and our representation in 2019 is based on the population of the United States in 1910. That is a problem, and one that needs to be addressed, but this agreement is not the way to address the problem. The Libertarian party of Colorado cannot speak against this agreement enough. This agreement literally invalidates voter participation in 49% of the country, pays no heed to the wishes of individual member states, and cedes the voices of Colorado to more populated states. This agreement makes a mockery of our republic, and the institution of voting. The Libertarian party is dedicated to representation of all people, and will fight against this legislation should it pass.

If we eliminate the Electoral College, literally or figuratively, we reduce representation rather than expand it. Los Angeles county California should not determine how Colorado votes, nor should we view that possibility as fair, progressive, or democratic. The agreement that the Democrats have introduced is not fair, progressive, or democratic. To think that signing this agreement does anything but silence the entire state is folly. Our representatives should do their jobs and represent the people of Colorado, not the opinions of people in other states.

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