Legislators shouldn’t disenfranchise voters
A bill would allow Hawaii's electoral votes to go to the presidential candidate with a plurality of the national popular vote.
Still simmering over President Bush's election eight years ago without a popular plurality, Democrats in the Hawaii Legislature are poised to approve a bill aimed at undermining the electoral college, relying on the popular vote nationally to elect the president. They lack an understanding of the federalism embraced by the Founders and a realization that the present system empowers small states like Hawaii.
Washington lobbyist Rob Richie argued to legislators that small states too often are ignored. He pointed out that "a majority of states did not receive even a single visit" by a presidential or vice-presidential candidate in 2004, as Bush and Sen. John Kerry concentrated on states such as Florida and Ohio.
He neglected to point out that Hawaii was not in that majority, since Vice President Dick Cheney campaigned here when Hawaii's four electoral votes were in doubt. Al Gore visited the state at the same time. If Kerry had won closely fought Ohio, he would have won the electoral but not the popular vote; under the proposed system, Hawaii's Kerry votes would have switched to Bush. Hawaii Democrats would have been left screaming.
In the Federalist Papers, John Madison explained that the proposed Constitution was, "in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both." That is why we have a House based on population, a Senate comprising two members from each state and an electoral college combining both systems.
Maryland and New Jersey have approved the change, which would be triggered only when enough states with similar rules have a combined 270 or more electors, enough for a majority.
The proposal in the Legislature essentially would disenfranchise Hawaii's voters. For that reason, Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a similar bill from the last session and should be prepared to do so again.
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