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January 6th committee member has it backward
Trent England • Jun 14, 2022

A member of the January 6th Select Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin is one of the most far-left members of Congress. He represents Maryland’s extremely Gerrymandered eighth district, which is dominated by rich suburbs of Washington, DC. And he is a long-time critic of the Electoral College and supporter of the National Popular Vote interstate compact (NPV).

Rep. Raskin plans to use the media circus around the Select Committee hearings to bash the Electoral College and advance NPV. “In multiple conversations among committee members,” according to an Axios report, “Raskin has argued that the Electoral College should be abolished. He used a recent Washington Post video interview to make the same claims.

All this is exactly backwards–the Electoral College helps to protect and stabilize our election process. And nothing would be worse than the rickety NPV plan, which itself is an attempt to manipulate the Electoral College.

The Electoral College uses states like the watertight compartments on an ocean liner. It contains elections within each state so that a problem in one state stays there, where it can be investigated and dealt with. Without it, we could have something like Florida in 2000 happen nationwide—with recounts in thousands of counties and lawsuits in every state.

With the Electoral College, individual states are in charge–there’s no federal official who can dictate election rules or control election processes from Washington, DC. And, as the courts confirmed again in the wake of the last election, one state cannot sue another or otherwise meddle in their election.

Rep. Raskin would prefer a system where concerns about election practices in Los Angeles or Chicago could derail an entire presidential election. That in turn would give states standing to sue other states, creating even more election lawsuits. And any kind of national direct vote would require more power for federal officials and Congress. That might appeal to Rep. Raskin, but it could only lead to more partisan division and distrust across the country.

His NPV plan is particularly dangerous. It’s an attempt to manipulate the Electoral College, forcing it to rubber-stamp the national popular vote result. While it may seem clever, this attempt to sideline the constitutional process without amending the Constitution is rife with new risks.

NPV relies on each compacting state to certify national vote totals for itself. Those states would ignore the will of their own citizens–overturning the result of their own state elections–in order to give away their electoral votes based on the national popular vote. Even if it worked flawlessly, it raises questions of fairness and constitutionality.

But large and contentious elections are never flawless. There will always be mistakes, concerns, and accusations–legitimate or otherwise. NPV only works if compacting states take every other state at their word in every election. Any disagreement and the system breaks down–the NPV compact fails to provide any mechanism to resolve disputes. At best, everything is left up to state and federal courts. At worse, the system would grind to a halt.

It’s ironic that Rep. Raskin, amidst accusations that some Trump supporters attempted to manipulate the last election, is pushing his own plan to manipulate future elections. It’s even more shocking that he is pushing a plan that, under the kind of extreme pressures experienced around the 2020 election, would be sure to fail and lead to a constitutional crisis. Perhaps the explanation is that creating chaos and confusion is part of the goal for those whose desire is to subvert constitutional institutions like the Electoral College.

Photo by Edward Kimmel