The “National Popular Vote” plan (NPV) is a scheme that would effectively abolish the Electoral College without going through the formal (and politically difficult) process of amending the Constitution. The NPV proposes an interstate compact in which participating states agree in advance to automatically allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote (the highest vote getter, even if only a plurality), disregarding the popular vote results in their states.
The NPV supposedly would go into effect as soon as “states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes” needed to win an election (270 votes) join the purported compact. This would give the voters of as few as 11 states control over the outcome of presidential elections and give the most populous states a controlling majority of the Electoral College.
Unfortunately, eight state legislatures and the District of Columbia have agreed to participate in this politically dubious, unconstitutional, and dangerous cartel. The NPV is already 49 percent of the way to the goal of 270 electoral votes and forcing even nonparticipating states into this drastic change in the Electoral College.
The NPV compact is not only unconstitutional, but it is also bad public policy that would undermine the protections of the Electoral College. It would diminish the influence of smaller states and rural areas of the country; lead to more recounts, contentious fights over provisional ballots, and conflicts over the results of presidential elections; and encourage voter fraud. It could also radicalize American politics and lead to Presidents who are elected with very small pluralities, or who failed to qualify for the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It strikes directly at the Founders’ view of federalism and a representative republic that balances popular sovereignty with structural protections for state governments and minority interests.
As part of its “Preserve the Constitution” series, the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation is going to have a presentation on the NPV on Friday, October 28. We will be discussing the original purposes of the Electoral College and their relevance today, as well as the effect the NPV would have on our system of electing the President.
I will be joining Trent England, vice president of policy at the Freedom Foundation, as well as Michael Uhlmann of the Department of Politics and Policy at Claremont Graduate School in California, to talk about this very important issue. The event will be hosted and moderated by Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan.