In an astonishingly partisan move, the Virginia House of Delegates, which has a majority of Democrats, voted to disenfranchise their voters by deciding to give their entire state’s presidential electoral votes to whomever wins the popular vote.
The move was likely prompted by Virginia Democrats’ assumption that just as President Trump lost the popular vote on 2016, he might do so again, and thus their bill, House Bill 177, would hand the state’s votes to his Democratic challenger.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) who is one of the great constitutional scholars of the Senate, fired back at the high-handed tactics of the Virginia Democrats and their blithe rejection of the ideals for which the American Founders stood, tweeting, “VA House votes to give all of Virginia’s votes to California & New York. Because that’s definitely in the interest of Virginians. Jefferson & Madison would be appalled.”
VA House votes to give all of Virginia’s votes to California & New York. Because that’s definitely in the interest of Virginians. Jefferson & Madison would be appalled. https://t.co/P4mELKgrOw
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 14, 2020
The bill passed in the Virginia House 51-46 and is now headed for the Virginia Senate, where Democrats also hold a majority, and then on to Democratic Governor Ralph Northam. As The Hill reported, “Virginia would subsequently be entered into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.”
The bill’s summary asserts, “Under the compact, Virginia agrees to award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact goes into effect when states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have joined the compact … A state may withdraw from the compact; however, a withdrawal occurring within six months of the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President has qualified to serve the next term.”
15 states and Washington, D.C., have joined the compact, National Popular Vote reports. The Hill notes, “A group of states possessing 74 electoral votes would need to join the agreement in order for the compact to take effect.”
Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution reads:
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress …
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States….The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed …
As Allan Gulezo wrote in National Affairs in 2018 in a comprehensive piece defending the Electoral College, “This method was slightly altered by the 12th Amendment in 1804, but only slightly, and we have elected presidents in the same way ever since. There is no mention whatsoever of a popular vote, at any level.”