The Arizona Republic
Sen. Allen correct about states’ power
THE MEDIA: Web. WHO SAID IT: Sylvia Allen. OFFICE: State senator, District 6; Senate president pro-tempore. PARTY: Republican. THE COMMENT: “How the Electoral votes are appropriated is only one of two of the powers the state legislators have been given in the U.S. Constitution. The other is Article V which allows the states to propose amendments to the Constitution.” THE FORUM: Facebook post on Dec. 20, 2016.
WHAT WE’RE LOOKING AT: The powers of state legislators outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
ANALYSIS: The U.S. electoral college voted in December to seal Presidentelect Donald Trump’s victory despite Hillary Clinton’s popular vote victory margin of nearly 3 million. Last week, Congress, meeting in a joint session, certified the outcome of the Electoral College balloting.
This presidential election marks the fifth time the Electoral College victor did not win the popular vote, according to FactCheck.org. That has led to loud debate of the merits of the Electoral College system.
Senator Sylvia Allen’s Facebook post came in response to what she said was a lot of email from constituents “asking (her) to change the way the Electoral College works in our state.”
The two powers she claims the Constitution grants state legislators are specified in articles II and V:
» Article II, section 1: “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.”
» Article V: “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments.”
The Constitution mentions those two specific state powers, but the 10th Amendment addresses more broadly states’ powers: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
James Weinstein, a professor at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, said in an email that the 10th Amendment doesn’t give power to the states. “That amendment merely confirmed what was implicit in the Constitution before the amendments, namely, that the power not delegated to the federal government remained with the states or the people,” he wrote in the email.
These state powers include establishing local governments, regulating state commerce and regulating corporations, among other powers.
Regarding the Electoral College, the members are selected by political parties in each state. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, “They may be state elected officials, state party leaders, or people in the state who have a personal or political affiliation with their party’s Presidential candidate.”
BOTTOM LINE: Allen is correct that choosing electors and proposing constitutional amendments are two powers reserved for the states and outlined in the Constitution. They are not, however, the entirety of state powers since the 10th Amendment specifies powers “not delegated to the federal government” remain with the states.
THE FINDING: Four stars: True SOURCES: Sylvia Allen’s Facebook post; “Presidents Winning Without Popular Vote,” FactCheck.org; U.S. Constitution, ConstituteProject.org; “About the Electors,” National Archives and Records Administration.