The Heritage Foundation and the State Government Leadership Foundation are hosting an exciting event on December 7 at Heritage on the Electoral College and the proposed “National Popular Vote” (NPV) plan. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and the chief election officials of five states, Secretaries of State Beth Chapman (Alabama), Tre Hargett (Tennessee), Delbert Hosemann (Mississippi), Kris Kobach (Kansas), and Matt Schultz (Iowa), will discuss the advantages of the Electoral College and the political, practical, and constitutional problems with the NPV.
As our Heritage Legal Memorandum explains, the NPV would effectively abolish the Electoral College without going through the formal process of amending the Constitution. The NPV plan proposes an interstate compact (without the consent of Congress) 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 state. 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 compact.
The NPV would undermine the protections of the Electoral College. It would diminish the influence of smaller states and lead to more recounts and contentious conflicts over the results of presidential elections. It could also encourage voter fraud. It might result in presidents being elected with very small pluralities, or someone being elected 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.
We began a public discussion of this topic at a panel presentation on October 28 but determined that the threat posed by the NPV deserves even more attention, especially from knowledgeable election officials and congressional leaders like Senator McConnell. On December 7, Senator McConnell will give a keynote address about the Electoral College and its purpose of “ensuring the participation of a broad regional diversity in the outcome of elections.” The five Secretaries of State will discuss the issues that would arise from administering the NPV, as well as their concerns over its constitutionality and other problems it could cause.