Yesterday I wrote about the National Popular Vote effort, to get states to voluntarily throw their electoral votes to the winner of the overall popular vote (regardless of who wins in each individual state). Several states have already signed up, but it would take effect only when the signatory states have a total of at least 270 electoral votes.

On further reading of the NPV web site, I think the current proposal is seriously flawed.

You see, once a state has decided to participate, the compact allows the legislature and governor of that state to change their minds and drop out of the NPV bloc as long as they do so by July 20 of the election year.

I contend that this would invite partisan abuse, not to mention being dangerously late in the process.

Let’s say NPV is in effect in some future election year. It’s early July, and we’re in a state dominated by Party A. The legislature and governor are of Party A, and Party A’s presidential candidate is a shoo-in in that state. But Party B’s presidential candidate is way ahead in national polls.

As July 20 approaches, the state’s Party A leaders will feel an increasing incentive, maybe even public pressure, to drop out of the compact to prevent the state’s electoral votes from going to Party B’s candidate. If they do drop out, and if that diminishes the total electoral votes of participating states to below 270, the NPV bloc doesn’t just lose this state’s votes. The whole compact is no longer in effect anywhere.

Suddenly, the massive presidential campaign organizations have to retool for a fundamentally different electoral vote paradigm, possibly only 3.5 months before the election. This is fraught with the potential for abuse.

NPV is a valiant attempt to hack the system to switch to a de facto popular vote. But I don’t understand the reasoning behind such an alarmingly late withdrawal deadline.

2 thoughts on “More on National Popular Vote

  1. Like most interstate compacts, the National Popular Vote compact permits a state to withdraw from the compact (i.e., repeal the law by which the state joined the compact). However, like most compacts, the National Popular Vote compact imposes a delay on the effectiveness of any withdrawal. Clause 2 of Article IV of the National Popular Vote compact provides:
    “Any member state may withdraw from this agreement, except that a withdrawal occurring six months or less before the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President shall have been qualified to serve the next term.”
    That is, no withdrawal from the National Popular Vote compact can become effective between July 20 of a presidential election year and the inauguration on January 20 of the following year. This six-month “blackout” period was chosen because it encompasses six important events relating to presidential elections, namely the national nominating conventions, the fall general election campaign period, election day on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, the meeting of the Electoral College on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, the counting of the electoral votes by Congress on January 6, and the inauguration of the President and Vice President for the new term on January 20.

    see http://www.NationalPopularVote

  2. Thanks for your response.

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t take into account the fact that the major-party nomination contests are always finished long before July 20. The conventions are merely a formality.

    This year, for example, John McCain clinched the Republican nomination way back in March. Barack Obama became the de facto Democratic nominee in the first week of June — extraordinarily late by recent standards.

    In my opinion, the blackout date should be much earlier — something more like January 1 of the election year.

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