Oklahoma State Senator Rob Johnson: Legislative Fool

JohnsonrBetween legislative sessions the Oklahoma House and Senate members can request studies be conducted on legislative issues.  The House has a list and the Senate has a separate list.  Reviewing these lists of studies can be very telling about the agendas of the legislators.  They all seem to have their own issues they feel are important.  Some are, some are ridiculous and some are dangerous.

Case in point.  Senator Rob Johnson has requested an interim study with the subject, “Study the possibility of allocating Electoral Votes based on the National Popular vote.”  This won’t be the first time that Sen. Johnson has attempted to change the way Oklahoma allocates electoral votes.  Michael Bates has a post on Batesline titled “Legislative fools back national popular vote” in which he tells of Johnson and others in the legislature attempting to get a bill passed during the last session which would have subjected Oklahoma’s electoral votes to the results of the national popular vote.  Fortunately, it was never brought up for a floor vote.

Senator Johnson is not the only legislator in Oklahoma who has wanted to change our electoral vote allocation.  He also introduced electoral vote legislation in 2011 and different legislators introduced it in the House in 2009 and 2007.  These are continual attempts to get Oklahoma to join an interstate compact that would change the way electoral votes are awarded nationwide.

The electoral votes study, a study about taxing the use of ‘e-cigarettes’ and a study about smokers are the only studies requested by Sen. Johnson.  Clearly, his pet issues are cigarettes and destroying the Electoral College.  For someone with a law degree he apparently never learned about federalism, the intent of the Founding Fathers and the purpose of the Electoral College. Senator Johnson currently serves as Assistant Majority Floor Leader.  He should be removed from any leadership position as long as he pursues this destructive course.

In addition to Oklahoma’s electoral votes being affected by fraud in cities such as Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia as Bates points out in his post, awarding electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote flies in the face of the federal system our Founders enacted and completely changes just who it is electing a President.  With the national popular vote the people are essentially directly electing the President.  Under the federal system in use for more than two centuries, the States elect the president.  In Federalist Paper 39, James Madison wrote that “the immediate election of the President is to be made by the States in their political characters.”  Apparently, you can get a law degree without learning about this.

Johnson needs to read part of the Republican platform approved at the convention last summer.  It reads, “We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College.  We recognize that an unconstitutional effort to impose “national popular vote” would be a mortal threat to our federal system and a guarantee of corruption as every ballot box in every state would become a chance to steal the presidency.”

I have asked Dave Weston, Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, if the party would support legislation that changes the allocation of electoral votes.  He has not responded to my inquiry.

Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution prohibits states from entering “into any Agreement or Compact with another State” without the consent of Congress.  Should this popular vote interstate compact ever have enough states to be enacted I sincerely hope there will be a constitutional challenge to this foolishness.  If not, then put some more nails in the federalism coffin.

Note: Apologies to Michael Bates for stealing part of the title.  It fits.

 

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8 comments to Oklahoma State Senator Rob Johnson: Legislative Fool

  • Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution– “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    With the Electoral College and federalism, the Founding Fathers meant to empower the states to pursue their own interests within the confines of the Constitution. The National Popular Vote is an exercise of that power, not an attack upon it.

    The Electoral College is now the set of 538 dedicated party activists who vote as rubberstamps for their party’s presidential candidate. That is not what the Founders intended.

    The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election. The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. It does not abolish the Electoral College. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

    Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ Electoral College votes from the enacting states. That majority of Electoral College votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

    Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

    With National Popular Vote, the United States would still be a republic, in which citizens continue to elect the President by a majority of Electoral College votes by states, to represent us and conduct the business of government in the periods between elections.

    • National Popular Vote has nothing to do with direct democracy. Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly.

    • The quote is from a New York Times editorial. 11/15/2012
      National Popular Vote did not write that.

      The Free Dictionary
      “pure democracy –
      A democracy in which the power to govern lies directly in the hands of the people rather than being exercised through their representatives.”

      Wikipedia)
      “Direct democracy (also known as pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide (e.g. vote on, form consensus on, etc.) policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then decide policy initiatives.”

    • Thank you for cutting and pasting your comments from numerous other webpages. In the future I will mark such comments as spam.

      You are correct, the national popular vote does not eliminate the Electoral College, but it does nullify it. The election results would be the same as if it did not exist. With the federal system you do have the possibility that the national popular vote winner will still lose the election and that has happened more than once. That’s as it should be since it is the STATES electing a president, not the people.

      You’re completely wrong about the United States remaining a republic with the national popular vote. It would be a direct democracy as far as the presidential election is concerned.

    • From the nationalpopularvote.com website: “The best method of moving toward direct democracy remains the National Popular Vote plan, under which states agree to grant their electoral votes to the ticket that gets the most popular votes around the country.”

    • http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/pages/editorials/nytimes.php

      The proponents of the national popular vote are clearly using the editorial entitled “The Tarnish of the Electoral College” to support their position. They publish it on their page; they own it.

      Oh, and thanks for commenting anonymously. I put my name on everything I write. Why don’t you?

  • LD Jackson

    A national popular vote would be in direct contradiction to the system of government set up by the Founding Fathers. Changing it in such a drastic manner would be a dangerous thing to do.

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