The Electoral College was established by the founding fathers as a compromise between a direct election of the President by popular vote and an election by Congress. They were particularly concerned, when drafting the Constitution of the new United States of America, that self-governance and minority interests be protected. The Constitutional Convention considered several methods of selecting a president – two proposals were to have Congress or the state legislatures choose the president. Both were rejected because of the possibilities of political bargaining, corruption, or the erosion of federal authority. A third idea was direct election of the President by the voters of the several states – this method was rejected because at worst, no candidate would emerge with a popular majority sufficient to govern the whole country. At best , the Presidential race would always be decided by the largest, most populous states with little regard for the smaller ones.
In 2007, Maryland became one of four states to enact the “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote”. This agreement is the result of a campaign designed to do an end run around the Constitution of the United States.
The terms of the agreement are simple: states enacting the compact agree to award their votes in the Electoral College for president to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of the outcome of the election within the boundaries of that state. Once enough states to constitute a majority of electors in the Electoral College (270) enact the compact, it goes into effect.
There have been over 1,000 proposed amendments to the Constitution affecting the Electoral College- only one has ever passed. The 12th amendment was enacted in 1804 and resulted in our modern system of a presidential and vice-presidential candidates running together as a ticket.
Currently, Maryland awards its electoral votes to the candidate receiving a plurality of votes in Maryland, as certified by the Maryland State Board of Elections. Thus, in 2004, Maryland’s 10 electoral votes went to John Kerry, who won approximately 56% of the vote in Maryland. However, under the terms of the Agreement, those 10 electoral votes would have been awarded to George W. Bush… it’s assumed. There is no “United States Board of Elections” to determine the winner of the national popular vote – a simple Google search for national popular vote results for any of the recent Presidential elections will reveal different numbers on every page cited. Nor is there any sort of apparatus in place for handling a recount on a national level – states have procedures and personnel in place to handle election disputes.
Five times since 1948, Maryland voters have preferred, and their electoral votes were awarded to, the candidate who ultimately lost the election.
Maryland citizens cast their votes on election day expecting that their duly elected representatives – the electors of Maryland – will be faithful to their duty to cast their own votes in the manner Maryland wished. In entering into this agreement, the Maryland government is ensuring that their electors will be faithless.
Delegate Anthony O’Donnell has introduced a bill to repeal Maryland’s participation in this agreement. House Bill 472 is before the House Ways and Means committee – please let your elected officials know that you support Delegate O’Donnell in his efforts to maintain a Constitutional Presidential election process in Maryland.