Delaware Governor Signs Bill That Would Give Electoral Votes to Winner of National Popular Vote

March 28, 2019 Updated: March 28, 2019

Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, signed a bill would hand over the state’s presidential electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of what voters say in those states, The Associated Press reported on March 28.

Delaware is the 13th Democratic-leaning state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, according to AP. The initiative started after Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 but lost to George W. Bush. It gained steam after Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump.

The Electoral College is embodied in the U.S. Constitution in the 12th Amendment. A change in the U.S. Constitution would require the support of two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of state legislatures.

President Trump voiced his opposition to the move to abolish the electoral vote earlier this month.

People cast their ballots in voting booths at the 2nd Street Elementary School in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, California on November 6, 2018 as Americans across the country cast their votes for the mid-term elections. (Frederic Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

“Campaigning for the Popular Vote is much easier & different than campaigning for the Electoral College,” he tweeted. “It’s like training for the 100 yard dash vs. a marathon. The brilliance of the Electoral College is that you must go to many States to win.”

But with the popular vote mandate, candidates are forced to focus on “just the large states.”

Meanwhile, cities would end up running the United States, he wrote.

“Smaller States & the entire Midwest would end up losing all power – & we can’t let that happen. I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.,” Trump tweeted on March 19.

Trump won the 2016 presidential election over rival Hillary Clinton after securing the electoral vote 304 to 227.

Other opponents of the measure said that it circumvents the U.S. Constitution.

Several Democratic candidates, including Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have called for the abolition of the Electoral College.

Before Delaware, Colorado Governor Jared Polis opted to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact in mid-March 2019. Both the state House and Senate passed the measure before he signed it.

“It’s a way to move towards direct election of the president,” Polis said at the time.

Origins of the Electoral College

In “The Federalist Papers,” U.S. founding father James Madison wrote that a republic, such as the United States, is able to “refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.”

He then criticized pure democracies.

They are “spectacles of turbulence and contention” and have “been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths,” Madison wrote.

“If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.” Alexander Hamilton (1755/1757–1804). Chief of staff of General Washington and a founding father of the United States. He was one of the most influential interpreters of the Constitution, the founder of the financial system and the first American political party. (Portrait by John Trumbull)
Alexander Hamilton (1755/1757–1804), chief of staff of General Washington and a founding father of the United States. (Portrait by John Trumbull)

Alexander Hamilton, another founding father, explained in “The Federalist Papers” why they deemed it necessary to have an Electoral College rather than rely on the popular vote.

“It was equally desirable that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements that were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to so complicated an investigation,” he wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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