More on National Popular Vote

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 The whole compact is no longer in effect anywhere.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.

National Popular Vote Terminated in CA

Of course, the winner of the popular vote doesn’t always win the presidency. Some Americans call that a Feature™, but most think it’s a Bug.

Last month (while I was AFK), California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed S.B. 37, which had proposed a novel workaround to that issue. Under this bill, California would have agreed to throw its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote across the country—not necessarily the winner in California.

According to an organization called National Popular Vote, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey have already signed up for this. If enough states were to follow suit, we’d effectively elect the president by popular vote.

Rather than quixotically pursuing a constitutional amendment, supporters are advancing this as an interstate compact—basically, a “treaty” between states. It wouldn’t take effect until enacted by states commanding at least 270 electoral votes, thereby guaranteeing an Electoral College majority.

(As implied, the Electoral College would continue to exist, but campaign strategy would no longer be built around winning electoral votes on a state-by-state basis.)

The current signatory states have a total of 50 electoral votes. California would have more than doubled that, so this veto’s gotta hurt.

The Grand Unified Theory of GOTV

It has been a month since I last posted. As fascinating as the mechanics of the Electoral College are (to a poli-geek like me, anyway), I’ve got people to see… elections to win!

Specifically, I’ve been busy with a new volunteer gig as chair of the DFL Asian Pacific Caucus (get-out-the-vote rally Saturday!), as well as general campaign volunteering and such.

Please bear with me. And by that I mean, please do some doorknocking or phonebanking.

The more we volunteer, the sooner this election will be over. Einstein proved it. Or something like that, anyway.