Democrats and Their Electoral Priorities

Some of you may remember back in 2007 when Maryland became part of the National Popular Vote boondoggle. The idea was that states with a total of 270 or more Electoral Votes would pass a law committing them to force their Presidential electors to vote for the winner of the national popular vote for President instead of voting for the candidate that the state actually voted for. They got to 162 total Electoral Votes committed before the entire thing lost momentum and nobody cared anymore.

Well, Luke Broadwater reports that State Senator Bill Ferguson has another cockamamie idea to bring this back again:

Ferguson’s bill, which is scheduled for a committee hearing next week, would authorize Maryland’s 10 Electoral College votes to go to the winner of the national popular vote for president — instead of the winner of Maryland’s votes — provided a red state with the same number of Electoral College votes (in Maryland’s case, Wisconsin) agrees to do the same.

“This is about expediting Maryland moving toward the popular vote,” Ferguson said. “It breaks the political logjam through a pairing strategy. All of those states that sign up for the pairing strategy will send their votes to the winner of the popular vote…..”

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“…Ferguson hopes his bill, if copied in other states, could provide a model in which blue states and red states of the same Electoral College size make the move to the popular vote together — hastening the demise of the current Electoral College system for selecting a president.

“The Electoral College is fundamentally undemocratic,” he said. “This is a national effort and Maryland can lead the way.”

Where to begin with all of the problems with this bill:

  • There are three states that have the same Electoral College tally as Maryland: Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. All three of those states are swing states compared to Maryland, a state that has not been carried by a Republican since 1988. Far from Maryland being able to negotiate with a “red state”, Ferguson’s bill is a subversive effort to force a swing state to vote for a Democrat even if that state did not vote for the Democrat. For example, if Maryland and Wisconsin were enjoined together in such a pact in 2016 Wisconsin would have been forced to cast their votes for Hillary Clinton even though Donald Trump carried the state.
  • Electoral vote tallies change over time. By the time we get to the 2024 election, any state that Maryland may have entered into a compact with may have a different number of electoral votes than they did at the time they entered into the compact.
  • Finally, Ferguson’s bill does not allow for an escape clause to get Maryland out of the compact if the electoral votes change. If a state that Maryland engages into such a compact with withdraws from the compact, Maryland would still by law be committing its electoral votes to the national popular vote winner.

It’s not a surprise that this bill is being pushed by such partisan Democrats like Ferguson and his co-sponsors, Sarah Elfreth, Guy Gazzone and Ron Young. Democrats like these believe that Presidents should only serve the needs of big cities and urban areas and not the needs of the entire country. Any push toward a national popular vote is a push toward campaigns and issues being focused strictly on left-leaning urban areas and not the rest of the country. It’s how you get national policy decided only in New York and San Francisco, which is what Ferguson et al would probably prefer.

These aren’t new concerns. CNN reported on them when the bill passed in 2007:

If the new system were adopted, constitutional scholar Tom Mann said there would be major changes to campaign strategies. “You would see a much greater emphasis by the candidates campaigning in large, uncompetitive states. States like California, Texas and New York,” he said.

The campaigns would go to ignored places like Houston and Los Angeles and New York because there are a lot of voters in those places. And unlike before, their votes would now matter.

But the new rules would also disconnect a state’s voters from its electors. Maryland voters could vote 100 percent Democratic, but if the Republican won the national vote, Maryland’s electoral vote would go to the Republican. “It’s based on the proposition that, say, those of us who live in Maryland care more about the national outcome of the popular vote for the president across the country than we do for our own particular state,” Mann said.

It’s both unfortunate and a galactic waste of time that Ferguson is pushing a national popular vote plan. Because as Ferguson whines that the “Electoral College is fundamentally undemocratic,” we have real issues with a lack of representation and a lack of democracy based on hyperpartisan Democratic redistricting both at the Congressional and the General Assembly levels. That Ferguson wants to address an issue that ultimately does not affect Marylanders while simultaneously ignoring gerrymandering that disenfranchises large swaths of Marylanders says a lot about Democrats and their commitment to fair and equal representation.


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