Tom Perez Says ‘Electoral College Is Not a Creation of the Constitution’ (It Is.)

DNC chair gets Constitution wrong in speech to law students

Tom Perez / Getty Images
October 26, 2017

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez incorrectly stated "the Electoral College is not a creation of the Constitution" during a Tuesday night speech.

"The Electoral College is not a creation of the Constitution," Perez said during a lecture at Indiana University Law School. "It doesn’t have to be there."

The Electoral College, a mechanism for indirect election of the president created by the Founding Fathers as a compromise between smaller states and larger states, is clearly laid out in Article II of the Constitution: "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress."

Perez has previously stated that President Donald Trump "didn’t win" last November’s election because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but he has never denied the fact that it is part of the Constitution.

The DNC did not respond to an inquiry into whether Perez truly thinks the "Electoral College is not a creation of the Constitution."

There are many educational resources available on the Internet that provide clear explanations of what is in the document, including many from the National Constitution Center, which was established by Congress to provide a "non-partisan … understanding of the Constitution among the American people."

"Rather than being elected directly by the people, the president is elected by members of the Electoral College, which is created by Article II, Section 1," it explains.

Following his comment, Perez went on to explain his hopes that states agree to a "national popular vote compact," in which states agree to give their allocated electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

"There's a national popular vote compact in which a number of states have passed a bill that says, we will allocate our vote, our electoral votes, to the person who wins the national popular vote once other states totaling 170 electoral votes do the same," Perez said. "I’m frankly proud to tell you that the first state to pass such a law was Maryland."

The main supporters of the plan put forward by Perez seem to understand it is a plan to circumvent the system created by the Constitution, not an argument that the system doesn’t exist.

Most critiques of the Electoral College, such as this one from Slate, which describes it as "a democratically indefensible anachronism that dilutes minority votes while disproportionately amplifying whites votes," also recognize that it is part of the Constitution.

"The Electoral College remains lodged in our Constitution, and this year, for the fourth time in history, it elevated to the presidency a candidate who lost the popular vote," writes Slate in its lead paragraph.

The comment from Perez came during a lecture honoring former Indiana Democratic Sen. Birch Bayh, who was accused last year of sexual assault by a writer who said Bayh groped her in the backseat of a limousine.

The DNC did not respond to an inquiry into whether Perez was aware of the allegations when he accepted the speaking opportunity.

The DNC was criticized earlier this month when it announced it would be keeping much of the money it was given by Hollywood megadonor Harvey Weinstein, who has been widely accused of rape and sexual assault.

Published under: DNC , Tom Perez