Outcome Disputes May Help Kill Electoral College

The status of the National Popular Vote Compact, which goes into effect once enough states have signed on to let the national totals determine their electoral votes.

By Steve Haner

The battle is now rejoined to kill the Electoral College and elect a U.S. President in 2024 based purely on the national vote total. The stubborn refusal of President Donald J. Trump and many other Republicans to accept the November 3 outcome is likely to become a new talking point for Electoral College foes.

Trump and his legal team see a path to victory if they can reverse votes in a handful of states he narrowly lost, by challenging votes or forcing recounts. Without the Electoral College process, the effort would be futile in the face of President-elect Joe Biden’s huge popular vote margin of victory. If the public grows tired of or even angry over the dispute, scrapping the Electoral College entirely may become more attractive.

With House Bill 177, the Virginia House of Delegates voted earlier this year to have Virginia join a compact of other states which have agreed to award their votes in the Electoral College to the highest national vote recipient, without regard to the outcome among their own state’s voters.

That bill was carried over to next session in a State Senate committee, but under Senate rules could be revived if voted on by early December. The chair of that committee, Senator Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, told Bacon’s Rebellion today he will not be calling that meeting to look at carry-over bills.  

But he also said his main objection to the idea in February was that it might be seen as an effort to affect this year’s election. That concern is now passed, and the 2024 election is far in the future. Fresh bills will be introduced in January.

Deeds had made similar comments, but no announcement about the meeting, in a Richmond television interview a few days ago. But in the interview, which you can watch or see here, he also sounded open to the proposal. Only one Democrat WRIC Channel 8 talked to, Roanoke Senator John Edwards, expressed opposition. He believes the approach of the compact violates the United States Constitution, which established the Electoral College. He wants to scrap it, but not via the compact.

The final weeks of campaign coverage and now the post-election disputes over a relative handful of votes illustrate the importance of the Electoral College.  There might not have been any suspense at all had it not been possible to win the White House without winning the popular vote, as has happened several times in American history including 2016.

Some hoped that an election where the popular vote total matched the Electoral College outcome might dampen the ardor for change.  It is not to be, and Virginia’s coming decision on the issue will matter greatly. The close outcome has also revived the idea of awarding electoral votes by the outcome in individual congressional districts, not by state, but implemented nationally that helps the Democrats, too.

Ending the Electoral College is the major step still outstanding in the well-executed Democratic Party effort to remake American elections. The same master plan, played out over the past few years in Virginia and other states, has been built on the presumption that a massive increase in voter participation would accrue to Democratic benefit. It did this time. Republicans now need to learn to play on this new field.

The steps that built that record turnout included easier restoration of rights for felons, ending photo identification requirements, expanding absentee and early voting opportunities, and allowing ballots arriving post-election to get counted. In Virginia, the Democrats even tried to remove the need for a postmark on mailed absentee ballots and did end the requirement for a witness signature.

All were individual pieces in a plan not to cheat or steal the election, but to change the rules in ways Democrats considered favorable to their chances. And when it was done through legislative actions, fine, that’s how the game is played. Doing it through regulations or judicial activism is more debatable.

An end to the Electoral College would be the jewel in the crown, creating an incredible uphill climb for any future GOP contender. The key lesson of legislative life is “what goes around, comes around,” and some Democrats may think hard about what happens when a future national popular votes goes against them. But short-term thinking is all the rage these days.

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47 responses to “Outcome Disputes May Help Kill Electoral College

  1. Stupid question. Popular vote only?

  2. So you’re saying the Constitution is irrelevant. Are you also against freedom of the press? My guess is no. The National Popular Vote nonsense won’t go anywhere because it is blatantly unconstitutional. The Electoral College is specifically spelled out and the only way to change it would be through a Constitutional amendment. And another thing – President Trump isn’t ‘stubbornly refusing’ to accept the election results. THE RESULTS AREN’T IN. Just because some in the media breathlessly declare Biden as the winner doesn’t make him so. Aren’t you the least but curious about the rampant fraud across multiple states? It seems you would rather carry water for your democrat masters.

    • Take a deep breath and face facts. He can’t flip four states, no way. Yes, please go after every instance of fraud (it happens), jail those responsible, and consider how to prevent it. An endless battle….Those who deny it happens (both ways) are idiots and dupes.

      NPV may indeed be unconstitutional. But the Constitution does vest control over electoral processes to the state legislatures, and it is legal to award the votes by CD, so it would be an interesting Supreme Court case.

      • Yes, yes, especially anyone in North Carolina, who prompted by the President at his rally there, voted by absentee and then in person.

        Lemmesee, does this effectively eliminate battleground States in favor of battleground CDs? Sheesh, that’ll drive the guys on the media “vote boards” nuts. Just look at the fun they are having with Maricopa County.

        On the other hand, it nullifies the overblown influence of vast unpopulated portions of the country.

        How would this dovetail with Virginia Prop 1?

      • I agree he’s not going to flip four states. I also think that if he wants to make himself look more foolish (ie. Gore-esk) go for it. Bush v Gore established a precedent, that unless one party concedes it ain’t over till all the court cases fail or are ruled on. The fact that most candidates have conceded, just means they are adults. That’s not something I think Trump has ever been accused of.

        • Nope, Bush v. Gore established NO precedent. It was never intended to do so. An election is over when the votes are counted and one candidate compiles the necessary number of electoral votes, whether or not the losing candidate ever agrees.

          • “Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.” Bush v. Gore

            Since the results have not been certified, and there are those who claim then that Biden is thus not yet the winner, why then did Marjorie Taylor Greene attend Congressional orientation?

      • “…President-elect Joe Biden’s huge popular vote margin of victory”


        Synonyms for huge:

  3. Removal of the Electoral College by Constitutional amendment would result in five or six major metropolitan areas in the U.S. being the determiners of the U.S. President. No need to advertise in Virginia. No need to fix those federal highways in Virginia.
    At the time of the drafting of the Constitution there were three metropolitan areas that would have controlled the presidential election.
    Our forefathers were right, again.

  4. Wait a minute. There is still a process going on. Gore hung on for 37 days. What’s your hurry? Not one state has certified its results. The GSA hasn’t certified. In fact, FEC Chairman Trey Trainor stated, “I do believe there is fraud in this places – if the law is not followed, it makes this an illegitimate election.” You also might want to look at Amendment 12 and if there is no concession … Hmmmm, right?? Think of the 1800 election. You might want to look at the lawsuits in these states – PA, NV coming, WI, MI. I think some of their legal arguments are quite compelling – and the brilliance of making the PA lawsuit a federal issue and not a state issue; makes the case not comparable to Bush v. Gore. American Thinker did a great article on this. If you follow social media at all, you might want to look at all the massive, comprehensive voter fraud in the feeds. You might want to search scorecard and hammer and what that means. The mainstream media appears not to be reporting on this. But in my view the left and the media are pretty much the same thing, and it’s a problem. Also citizenfreepress.com has a pretty comprehensive list of articles related to the 2020 election.
    Remember Biden bragged about having “the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in history. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA8a2g6tTp0. And, no, I don’t believe the fact-checkers that state he misspoke because we are seeing exactly this. We knew this was going to be a problem with the uncontrolled mail-in ballots. I have a bridge for sale.
    One last thought: If they get away with this, we will never have another fair and free election, and that should scare every one of us.

    • “If you follow social media at all….” Well there we have the first problem.

      Oh, I fully agree the mail-in ballots, especially when send out en masse, are ripe for abuse and probably were abused in places. Again, that is the kind of process change done in advance and out in the open that I am writing about.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Wouldn’t it be something if Clarence Thomas has his revenge against Biden some thirty years later?

    • There is a lot of truth and substance behind dalhommer’s comment. Unlike him, we seem to have forgotten that our federal and to a degree our state governments were established by, and are regulated by the US Constitution, and the laws passed pursuant thereto. To significant degree this includes elections, as well over governance, and relationships between states and Federal.

      Increasingly, it appears that America today is run by a cabal of powerful corporate interests who run America’s newly created power centers soup to nuts, irrespective of the will of its citizens under their established republic. The new power centers include an oligarchy that runs a hugely expanded national media that controls most of our communications, and increasingly our political parties, our public and quasi public institutions (such as our colleges and universities), and rapidly expanding highly privileged identity groups, in contravention of all our laws except those benefiting those privileged few who manipulate the rest of us, including by pitting Americans against one another so as to divide, conquer and rule them.

  5. I agree that the Democrats are likely to introduce National Popular Vote Compact in the upcoming session of the General Assembly. I also agree that implementation of the NPV Compact could raise questions under the U.S. Constitution.

    However, apart from any objections under the U.S. Constitution, there are other reasons why Virginia should not adopt the NPV Compact. I discussed those other reasons in a October 15, 2020 op-ed posted on Bacon’s Rebellion.

    • By then I’d written about it here several times, before and during the 2020 session. Your take is certainly welcome. I jumped in again because I wanted to make clear Deeds wasn’t bringing it back pre-session, and I wanted to make the point it is just part of a pattern of changing the rules (a better explanation for Nov 3 than alleged fraud).

  6. Unsatisfied, Speaker Pelosi appears to be ready to eliminate any further accountability measures: https://www.wsj.com/articles/harvesting-the-2020-election-11605221974

  7. That’s all well and good until the political winds start blowing the other way. Ever notice that politicians don’t have a sense of history? It’s all about what benefits us today, because everything will remain static past this point.

  8. On the bright side, PV supremacy could actually mean national Republicans begin running on a more competitive platform which seeks a broad, y’know, national mandate, as opposed to eking out razor-thin victories due to demographic peculiarities. Running on warmed-over Reaganism + impotent culture war signaling only helps GOP politicos secure a comfy permanent minority status and shoulder-check reforms on behalf of dying industries like petroleum and ethanol.

    The reverse is needed — campaigns must aspire to the margins Reagan won with. They will, just like Trump, have to slaughter some GOP sacred cows along the way.

    • If they did all of those improvements, they’d be Democrats.

      • The Democrats as currently funded, led, and constituted are the most well organized and unambiguously anti-working-class faction in American political life. These people, and the “progressives” most of all, are the de-facto shock troops of private equity vultures, tech barons, and the comfortably credentialed professional class.

        When a living wage is demanded, they nod, knowing its meaningful impact will be blunted by the rise of Proposition 22-style contracting and automation. When healthcare costs south of banditry are suggested, they smile, and rope healthy 20somethings into insurance pools to sustain the shell game. When towns are hollowed out by offshoring and when families rot from intergenerational marginality, tracked-out veins, serial divorce, failing public education, and soaring home/school/childcare costs, they push glowing writeups on body positivity, The Next Fifteen BIPOC Startup Breakouts You’ve Never Heard Of, and why LGBTQ needs a + sign on the end. It wasn’t always this way, but the Democrats really are the party of imperial decadence.

        GOP institutions still have residual loyalty toward deficit hawkery, but the voting demographics most turned onto that sort of thing are either trending Dem fast or are “ahem, it’s liberal with a SMALL ‘L'” enthusiasts whiling away their retirement posting at BR. Noah fence guys, I’m here too.

        I think it’s safe to say the really interesting vote gains the GOP saw in 2020 — in particular Miami-Dade, eastern Arkansas, and South Texas — didn’t stem from worries surrounding Biden’s tax plan. That’s not the “communism” the emigres fear, and nor is it relevant for second-gen Latino Border Patrol agents or Blue Dog remnants along the Mississippi. They saw statues tumble, stores looted, and running firefights in Wisconsin, but the only thing the left tangibly offered anyone in this election was an appeal to refined suburban media palates. “Orange Man Bad! Russia scary! Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to taking two vacations a year and watching prestige TV?”

        To accomplish policy goals, you have to attain power. To truly attain power in a time where most institutions are staffed by your enemies, you need to maintain power. To maintain power, you need to win elections consistently. To win elections consistently, you need to build a popular — dare I say populist? — platform that leaves obscure points of conservatarian logic behind. For their considerable faults, the Trumpified GOP was able to accomplish much of this. I hope his successors can keep it up.

        Apologies for the length.

        • Trump has announced for 2024. You’re stuck with him. Be careful what you wish for.

          It’s okay, I read half of it.

          • All the more reason for Hawley, Rubio, Cotton et al to stay in the populist lane they carved out under Trump. It’s easy money betting that a populist national conservative without Trumpian hangups will outperform one with said hangups. This is free advice — go ahead and update your PredictIt portfolio.

          • Yeah, but who sucks up the money? Which, of course, is all he wants.

            And, btw, I read it all. Not at once, mind you, but all of it. It wasn’t that long. It wasn’t a Reed tome.

    • Hey, the R’s gained in the House substantially, may still hold the Senate, picked up a governor’s seat, picked up statehouse seats….No Blue Wave. That would not indicate too much problem with the message and more with the leading messenger.

      • Steve, in practical affect, the Republican’s won the 2020 elections and the Democrats know it.

        Hence, the biggest question now is the Democratic Party going to blow apart?

        And, if so,

        are the Republicans competent and tough enough to pick up and join with the sane pieces of the old Democratic Party, and save the nation?

        Let us all work to that end.

      • Who’s going to be sleeping in the White House for the next four years?

        It’s nice to overperform national polling and nail down the Senate (and get the narrowest Dem House lead since the mid-20th century), but I’m unsure how materially different this will be from the Obama years. The Senate and state AGs are going to be doing all the heavy lifting for the GOP, and outside of tech policy, said heavy lifting will consist of monkey-wrenching appointments and generally making life hard for Biden’s policy people. McConnell and RAGA are great at this, and it’s a comfy low-pressure role for them after having to constantly run interference for Trump.

        Problem is, status quo ante Trump is not precisely a good thing for the GOP’s voting base, or any voters they hope to capture. Ossifying into a permanent handbrake on national-level progressive dominance is not good politics. It may be, in fact, bad politics. Rs are too comfortable “losing by a little.” They need a killer instinct to win, let alone win bigly.

        Day One of Killer Instinct Capital Partners’ buyout of the RNC should be pink slips for any consultancy or lobbyist-inserted policy plank that is just as happy being an influential minority as it would be in the majority.

        • Ossoffying?

        • novalad says”

          “It’s nice to overperform national polling and nail down the Senate (and get the narrowest Dem House lead since the mid-20th century), but I’m unsure how materially different this will be from the Obama years.”

          But the country was far different during the Obama years. The other half now is far different. It is woke, determined, powerful, and growing by the day. It will not be denied. Especially since the Obama half is now spent, intellectually, morally, and policy wise bankrupt, a demonstrable and utter failure and dead end that is plain to see.

          • So, permanent minority status is the best we can hope for? No budging on policy issues to conquer D voters and the millions who don’t vote in the first place?

            The Biden coalition is not grounded in leftist radicalism. There were tens of millions of Rockefeller Republicans, Clinton Democrats, and working-class people of all colors who voted blue for one reason or another. We should not think it impossible to notch gains among these demographics in the coming cycles, but we similarly can’t believe that we can attract those voters by doubling down on old-line constitutional conservatism.

            If you think the woke coalition is electorally ascendant, then for the GOP, ideological parochialism is a slow death. At some point or another, our desire to win big and govern well must outweigh policy plank sentimentality. This is what I mean by “killer instinct.” Nothing Rs do matters if they cannot consistently grasp the reigns of power and deliver tangible results.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Novalad – It appears that you did not read or did not grasp and understand my first comment that started this exchange, namely:

            “Steve, in practical affect, the Republican’s won the 2020 elections and the Democrats know it.

            Hence, the biggest question now is the Democratic Party going to blow apart?

            And, if so,

            are the Republicans competent and tough enough to pick up and join with the sane pieces of the old Democratic Party, and save the nation?

            Let us all work to that end.”

            Indeed, your last comment supports mine, save your assertion that I am about “ideological parochialism (that) is a slow death… or policy plank sentimentality … Nothing Rs do matters if they cannot consistently grasp the reigns of power and deliver tangible results.” This characterization strikes me as an apt description of the Democratic left as is becoming plain to more and more people of all political stripes, save for the leftists who refuse compromise yet gain ever more control of Democratic party. Hence my comments.

          • Perhaps we’re talking past each other. My issue with your comment was primarily in regard to this line: “in practical affect, the Republican’s won the 2020 elections and the Democrats know it.”

            As I see it, the “practical effect” of the 2020 elections is that it puts Rs in the same position they were in for most of the Obama years: a Democratic president and D House (albeit by a small margin). In practical terms, that’s not a victory, unless our end goal was to adopt the mode of human stumbling blocks.

  9. Several observations:
    1. Get over it, folks. Biden won. The federal Dept. of Homeland Security says that this was the most secure election in history; Republican and Democratic state elections officials are refuting the idea of mass fraud; courts have ruled against Republican suits in Mich., Pa, and Ariz.; the big law firms are backing away from representing Trump; no credible evidence of large scale fraud has surfaced; Rudy is now heading up Trump’s legal efforts (sign of desperation); leaks from the White House indicate that Trump is not serious about any of the legal cases, but rather he just wants to stir things up and keep the attention on him.

    2. I hope Steve is right about this fiasco leading to a stronger push to abolish the Electoral College, but I doubt it. I’m afraid that all this attention will reinforce the determination of the smaller states to keep it.

    3. As much as I admire Creigh Deeds, I am disappointed in his declaration that his committee will not meet to take up carry-over bills. What is the point in having the provision for carry over of bills if you are then going to completely ignore those carried over and not even take them up?

    • The “point” is usually to kill the bill with a gentle touch, rather than the sledge hammer motion of “pass by indefinitely.” Over 99% carried over never actually show up again in the next session.

      “The federal Dept. of Homeland Security says that this was the most secure election in history….” Now that’s funny. Right, DHS is charged with and expert at spotting voting shenanigans. I agree the election is over, but cleanest ever? BS talking points.

      • I realize, of course, the current function of carrying a bill over, that is, killing it softly. The original intention of this procedure, however was different. It was to provide additional time to study and research complex or controversial bills during the interim. At least, that was the public rationale given to justify carrying over bills. Such additional study has seldom been conducted, however. I can’t decide which is worse: keeping up the pretense or just ignoring the procedure altogether, as Deeds has done.

  10. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Does Virginia use Dominion Software for ballot tabulation?

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