National Popular Vote: Progress or Problem? (Part 2 of 3)

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
10/30/2012
       
National Popular Vote: Progress or Problem? (Part 2 of 3)

In Part 1 of this series, we reported on the efforts underway by many to abolish the electoral college and to have the winner of the upcoming presidential election decided by a national popular vote (NPV). Several states have passed — and many others are considering — bills that would effect a de facto destruction of the Constitution's mandate regarding the method for election of the president.

In Part 1 of this series, we reported on the efforts underway by many to abolish the electoral college and to have the winner of the upcoming presidential election decided by a national popular vote (NPV). Several states have passed — and many others are considering — bills that would effect a de facto destruction of the Constitution's mandate regarding the method for election of the president.

Despite minor differences in the various NPV bills, there are a few aspects common to all of them. First, a member state shall hold presidential elections by statewide popular vote. Second, the chief election official of the state is required to certify the results of the election and report the final vote tally to his colleagues in the other members of the compact. Third, an official shall determine the “national popular vote totals” for each candidate in each state (even those not participating in the scheme). Finally, the electoral votes of each signatory state are awarded to the candidate who wins the popular vote count.

The compact specifies that it shall take effect only after enactment of NPV legislation has occurred in states with a combined number of electoral votes equal to a controlling majority (currently 270). Should this occur, it would mean that whoever wins the national popular vote would become president.

In a document entitled “Every Vote Equal,” published by National Popular Vote, Inc., the authors proclaim their supposed plan for dealing with the Electoral College:

The Electoral College would remain intact under the proposed compact. The compact would simply change the Electoral College from an institution that reflects the voters’ state-by-state choices (or, in the case of Maine and Nebraska, district-wide choices) into a body that reflects the voters’ nationwide choice. Specifically, the proposed compact would require that each member state award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who received the largest number of popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Despite these well-worded assurances, however, should the NPV compact become the method by which the president is elected, the Electoral College will effectively be dead. Although, strictly speaking, the Electoral College would remain intact, it would exist in name only. Its republican, anti-democratic essence would be removed, and it would be left as a mere Potemkin structure. That is to say, it would maintain the appearance of constitutional republicanism, but be bereft of any such workings and as such unable to provide any of the protections against tyranny for which it was originally designed.

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