To the Editor:
That was a clever rebuttal (Jan. 24) from Samuel Edwards to my column on why North Carolina should adopt the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to elect the president instead of relying on the dysfunctional Electoral College. Too clever, I’m afraid.
He would have the electoral votes awarded by congressional district, with the statewide winner getting the two electoral votes that represent the senators. That would be quite convenient for his side, since so many more congressional districts are gerrymandered to favor Republicans than Democrats. If every state did it, the legislatures — which are gerrymandered themselves — would be rigging the presidential elections every time they redistrict.
The people supporting the national popular vote have looked at this, as I suspect Mr. Edwards has also. George W. Bush would have won even more electoral votes in 2000, when he lost the popular vote, and in 2004 when he won it. In both cases, the disparity between the people’s vote and the electors’ votes would have been greater.
Mr. Edwards’ remedy would preserve the main feature that five times has skewed the electoral outcome against the people’s choices. That’s the fact that each state, large or small, gets the same two votes representing its senators. Leave this in place, and candidates would still spend nearly all their time and money on the dozen or so “battleground” states. If anything, this problem would be worse.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is being confronted with a case from our own state that should make it finally able to see and smell political — as opposed to racial — gerrymandering when it is before them. The gerrymandering chieftain in Raleigh boasted that he gave the Democrats three congressional seats because he couldn’t find a way to give them only two. If the court finally cracks down on this noxious practice, Mr. Edwards might want to think more carefully about what he’s wishing for.
Martin A. Dyckman