The Hawaii State Legislature recently passed a bill, which would award all of Hawaii’s electoral votes to the winner of the U.S. national popular vote in presidential elections. Maryland recently passed a similar bill, and Arkansas and Colorado state legislators are moving along the same path.
The idea of the bill is to guarantee that the presidential candidate who receives the most votes over the entire country wins the Presidency. Elections based on popular vote count would have avoided the 2000 scenario, where Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral college vote.
Recently, Jim Henshaw contributed a piece to Hawaii Reporter in which he called state legislators “blithering idiots” for supporting this bill.
"Blithering Idiots at the Hawaii State Legislature - Yes, There are Some"
Mr. Henshaw argued that the bill makes no sense, because given Hawaii’s small population, our electoral college votes would go to whomever won on the mainland. He singles out Democrats as particularly idiotic, because a Republican winner on the mainland would claim all our electoral votes, even though Hawaii typically votes Democratic in presidential elections.
Mr. Henshaw appears to miss the main point of the popular vote bill. That is, the bill aims to render the electoral college system irrelevant. Casting the electoral college votes to the popular winner would be a symbolic gesture only, a nod to an antiquated system. The popular vote would determine the winner, the electoral college votes would follow limply behind. In fact, as I understand it, if the popular vote bill passed in all states, then every winning candidate in every presidential election would always receive all of the electoral college votes.
Mr. Henshaw is correct in noting that, if the popular vote concept is accepted, Hawaii could award all its electoral college votes to a candidate who lost the election here. The question is: so what? After all, we are not electing the President of Hawaii but the President of the United States and what better way than a popular vote that encompasses the entire nation?
Todd Shelly, a Hawaii Kai resident, can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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