The Tennessee Republican Party has weighed in on how we go about electing a president in this country. The state Executive Committee of the GOP approved a resolution Saturday supporting the current Electoral College process.
The vote is in a response to a movement to change the way Electoral College votes are divided up in a presidential election. Presently, when voters go to the polls to pick a president, they are actually selecting a slate of “electors” who represent each state. These electors combine to form the Electoral College.
Electors are typically strong and loyal supporters of their political party, but can never be a sitting member of Congress. They are also generally free agents, as only 29 states require electors to vote as they have pledged, and many constitutional scholars believe those requirements would withstand a court challenge.
After the election, the party that wins the most votes in each state appoints all of the electors for that state. This is known as a “winner-take-all” or “unit rule” of electors. The only current exceptions to this rule are in Maine and Nebraska.
This process has come under debate since the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, when former Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush captured the Electoral College vote. That election was the first time in more than a century that the candidate finishing first in the popular vote did not win the election for the White House.
Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee, and other leaders of the National Popular Vote campaign want to allow a state to cast its electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of the winner in that state. This method could only be used when states boasting a total of at least 270 electoral votes — the minimum for victory — make the same pledge.
National Popular Vote bills have passed in Maryland and New Jersey. Legal scholars say the idea is a long shot but may be easier than trying to amend the Constitution, which takes approval by Congress and then ratification by 38 states.
This is simply a scheme to circumvent the Constitution and should be treated as such by state lawmakers. The Founding Fathers established a procedure for amending the U.S. Constitution, and it does not include shenanigans.
We are pleased to see officials with the Tennessee Republican Party feel the same way. We hope they will convince members of their party who serve in the state General Assembly to leave the Electoral College system as it is.