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Illinois Senate Passes National Popular Vote Plan

Published on May 31, 2007, by in General.

On May 31, the Illinois Senate passed HB 1685, the National Popular Vote Plan for presidential elections. The vote was 37-22. The bill had previously passed the Illinois House, but since the Senate amended it slightly, it must return to the House.

Some individuals say they are opposed to the National Popular Vote Plan because it subverts the intention of the Founding Fathers. Most historians believe that the Founding Fathers expected the electors to use their own judgment when they voted for president in the Electoral College. And even after the Electoral College had gone into operation, only a few states elected electors the way most states do today. For example, in 1792, the only states that elected their electors by popular vote at-large were Maryland, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. By contrast, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Virginia elected their electors by congressional district. And Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont, all let the state legislatures choose the electors.

10 Responses

  1. Like everything else in this state,the general assembly does not know the meaning of the phrase “Constitutional”

  2. DOdemos

    The bill is constitutional. States have complete and plenary power over the allocation of electoral votes. And congressional consent on interstate compacts need not be explicit unless the compact threatens the authority of the federal government. Since states have complete control over how they give out their electoral votes, the federal government has no authority in this area, thus it need not give explicit consent over the compact.

  3. DOdemos states the argument for the constitutionality of NPV very forcefully. The counter-argument is that NPV will be constitutional only if a certain group of nine distinguished-looking ladies and gents say it is.

    I don’t think they will. I suspect they will rely on the principle that a contract for an illegal purpose is unenforceable. True, each state legislature acting individually has plenary power over its own electoral votes, but the states can’t enter into a contract to use that power for the illegal purpose of changing the federal structure of the union without a Constitutional Amendment. Q.E.D.

    The principles of contract law won’t be what they’re really defending, of course. They will really be defending federalism itself, at least as they see it.

    I’m not saying I approve of federalism or of the motives I’m ascribing to the Supreme Court. I’m just making a prediction.

  4. DOdemos

    But there a hundreds of interstate compacts that the justices could just have easily struck down, but they didn’t. They can’t just go against precedence on this contract. And the agreement isn’t illegal

  5. DOdemos Shows they do not understand the Original intent of the founding fathers or the U.S. Constitution,the NPV Negates the Original Purpose of the Electoral Collage

  6. Dan Johnson-Weinberger

    The Senate passed a different bill, HB 1685, that was amended to include the identical language to HB 858, so the House still has to concur with the new bill. The original purpose of the Electoral College was never, ever realized. The Founding Fathers from the free states wanted a national popular vote and a vote in Philadelphia to use a national popular vote narrowly lost (5-6) in debate. The slave states blocked a national popular vote, because they would have lost an election where their slaves did not help to beef up their apportionment. Recall, that’s the 3/5th compromise that set Congressional apportionment by counting slaves as 3/5ths of a person and gave the slave states more seats in Congress (and thus, more power to pick the president in an Electoral College). The original idea was that a group of people would actually meet and decide which candidate should become the President before ultimately submitting the names to Congress who would have the final say in a one-vote-per-state-delegation election. That never happened. The Founding Fathers never imagined a non-deliberative Electoral College or statewide, winner-take-all votes (developments that occurred decades after Philadelphia). Thus, switching state legislation from casting all of the Electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote to the winner of the national popular vote is not changing the structure of the federal Union. It’s just another development in the ever-changing state laws that govern presidential elections.

  7. Dan Johnson-Weinberger: Switching state legislation from casting all of the Electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote to the winner of the national popular vote is not changing the structure of the federal Union. It’s just another development …

    Excellent point. Do you think the current membership of the Supreme Court will see it this way? I have my doubts.

  8. Thanks for having this site available. I now go to it frequently.

    I am currently Vice-Chair of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project. Please do write me back about this bill. As I read it, the winner of the national vote gets all of the electors from the state.

    Are there any loopholes in HB 1685 that can be construed to split the electors by the winner of the vote in each congressional district? I am concerned since, the legislature in CA has a bill to do just that.

    Please do write me back.

  9. BHR

    “DOdemos Shows they do not understand the Original intent of the founding fathers or the U.S. Constitution,the NPV Negates the Original Purpose of the Electoral Collage” –Charles Broy

    And you show that you do not understand the original purpose of the Electoral College, as intended by the framers. Today’s Electoral College–in function–is nothing like they envisioned it. It’s current winner-take-all system on the basis of state-by-state popular voting came about because the states themselves decided–over many decades–to arrive at that decision. The original concept of an Electoral College that would insulate the presidency from an uninformed electorate is long dead. The states–as DOdemos quite correctly points out–are within their full constitutional authority to do this, and the Agreement is not the slightest bit “illegal.”

  10. bruce snider

    The original intent of the electoral college was as a tool to communicate the will of the people. This system no longer searves this function, instead it searves the state in a way it was not desgned for by almost allowing a states administration to decide for the people what is best. Father knows best mentality. When we vote for a president he is not the only rule in the land but a part of a system of checks and balances that has been subverted since 2000. The president runas the country on a day to day basis by permission of the congres (who are supposed to representt the rights of the people and the senat that represent the overall states the represent)he is a leader.

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