Advantages and Disadvantages of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

In the 2016 Presidential Election if the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact had been in effect the winner of the national popular vote, Hillary Clinton, would have become president instead of Donald Trump.

Advantages of the NPV Interstate Compact

1. If the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact becomes law it would be an excellent first step to help get a future amendment to the Constitution to replace the Electoral College/Winner-Take-All system to elect the president with a national popular vote using Ranked Choice Voting. Even though we will be able to elect the president by national popular vote using the The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, eventually the rules for how we elect the president should be an official part of the Constitution

2. Using the NPV system means that every vote counts the same. Under the Electoral College/Winner-Take-All system votes in small states, like Wyoming or Delaware count double what votes in large states like California or Texas. And that’s not how it should be in a democracy. The Supreme Court has said in local and state elections voting should be based on the principle of “one person one vote. That principle should be expanded to presidential elections.

3. Because of the state Winner-Take-All rules, which aren’t even part of the Constitution, they can lead to presidential elections where the winner of the election doesn’t have the most popular votes. And that’s not how it should be in a democracy.

4. Because of the Winner-Take-All state laws candidates for president only campaign and spend their money in 12-13 swing states because voters in those few swing states determine who wins the election and presidential candidates totally ignore voters in the rest of the country(except to raise money). That effectively means that votes in the the 75% of the country that are in swing states effectively don’t count at all. And that’s not how it should be in a democracy.

5. [Add switching votes of losing party to the other party’s voter totals in every state using the Electoral College/Winner-Take-All system (except for 5 EC votes in Maine and Nebraska that are awarded proportionally instead of by Winner-Take-All.]

6. And finally, the Electoral College doesn’t work today anywhere near how the Founding Fathers intended it to work when they created it back in 1787. It was a great idea in 1787 but the country has changed since 1787 and the people today want to elect the president by a simple, direct popular vote where whoever gets the most votes wins like we do in every other election in the country.

Disadvantages of the NPV Interstate Compact

1. Many people may feel that any major change in how we elect the president should be in the Constitution and not in a legal “loop hole” even if it’s legal and technically constitutional. And that would undermine the legitimacy of the NPV among those people.

2. I fear that most, if not all, of the states signing onto the NPV Compact will be just blue states. If this happens many people in the red states will not feel that the change is legitimate even if it’s legal and technically constitutional.

3. To pass an amendment to change the Constitution the Founding Fathers wisely required approval by 2/3 of both houses of Congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures instead of a simple majority. Probably the NPV Compact would be enacted into law with as little as a simple majority of the states and possibly even less. Actually the NPV Compact doesn’t change one word in he Constitution and in fact only changes state laws. But for those people who feel that changing how we elect the president should only be done by constitutional amendment they will feel that using the NPV Compact will undermine the legitimacy of the process even though it’s perfectly legal and constitutional.

4. The NPV Interstate Compact does not eliminate the very complicated Electoral College system that most voters don’t really understand. By adding this new interstate compact to the Electoral College/Winner-Take-All system to elect our president we are in fact making this system even more complicated and even harder for the voters to understand.

5. The states that join the NPV Compact will not be able to certify their Electoral College Votes until all 50 states and DC certify their state popular votes and any mandated/requested recounts since the Compact state ECVs are dependent on the winner of the national popular vote and not just their own state popular votes.

If some of the 50 states and DC cannot certify their popular votes by the December deadline that could create a constitutional crisis where we would not have all of the state Electoral College votes certified by the time the Electoral College is required to vote according to the Constitution.

In the 2020 election California did not certify their votes until Friday, December 11, only 3 days before the Electoral College met on Monday, December, 14. That would give the Compact states only 3 days( and two of those days were weekend days) to certify their state votes. Unless the national popular vote was very close, or there were all lot of recounts outstanding, the Compact states in most cases would effectively know what the outcome would be and could be prepared to certify their state votes very quickly to make the Electoral College meeting date deadline.

However that presumably rare exception happened in the 2000 election when Florida could not complete their statewide recount in time for the Electoral College deadline and the Supreme Court forced Florida to use their first vote count without a statewide recount.

But the biggest problem with changing how we elect our president using the NPV Compact is that it’s too easy to change it back. Because it’s so hard to get an amendment to the Constitution passed that means that once it becomes law it will probably remain so for a long time because the bar to change it back is so high.

But with the NPV Compact a change in party control of just one or two states could restore the old system of electing the president and then four years later it could be changed back. In theory we could change how we elect our president every four years. And that would lead to chaos in how political parties campaign for president and could also undermine the legitimacy of the process.

Also the NPV Compact allows states to withdraw from the compact as late as four months before an election. Image the country thinks it is going to elect the president by National Popular Vote and then changing back to using the old Electoral College/Winner-Take-All system just four months before an election. Or the opposite could be true. The country thinks we are going to elect the president using the Electoral College/Winner-Take-All system tans and then four months before the election we change to the National Popular Vote Compact system and elect the president by whoever gets the most popular votes.

That could lead to a very bad situation where, instead of the people voting in November to determine who the next president is, one or two states could effectively decide who becomes the next president simply by joining or withdrawing from the NPV Compact and changing the rules on how the votes for president are counted in the next election. In theory that could happen every four years. But in practice it could happen every 10 or 20 years when the Electoral College votes change because the congressional boundaries change with the new population census.

Note: Today we are in a phase where the popular vote in presidential elections leans Democratic. But sometime in the future the popular vote will change back and lean Republican. That’s the way it has been in this country for a long time. Over the long run the country’s popular vote in presidential elections has roughly been equally split between Republican and Democratic.*

Today the Democrats want to replace the Electoral College/Winner-Take-All system with a direct popular vote and the Republicans adamantly want to keep it. I am confident that when we enter the next phase where the popular vote leans Republican that Republicans will change and be adamant that we should elect the president by direct popular vote and Democrats will be arguing why we should keep the Electoral College/Winner-Take-All system. That’s how politics works in America.

But if we set politics aside and focus on what is really best for democracy in our country in the long run I believe that the advantages of using the NPV compact to elect our president outweigh the disadvantages and the best way to elect our president in the 21st century is by direct popular vote using Ranked Choice Voting.

Don’t know what Ranked Choice Voting is? I will explain that in another blog post.

*6 Elections 2000-2020 Popular Vote

5 Elections Democratic

1 Election Republican

6 Elections 1976-1996 Popular Vote

3 Elections Democratic

3 Elections Republican

6 Elections 1952-1972 Popular Vote

2 Elections Democratic

4 Elections Republican

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