There have been five presidential elections in which the elected President did not receive a popular vote majority. The most recent of these were 2000 Bush v. Gore and 2016 Trump v. Clinton. In both instances animosity carried over and affected the public perception of the President to govern. A second point by NPV proponents is that America is the only democracy that does not have NPV as a means of electing a president. However, parliamentary governments have their chief executive chosen by the legislature and there are more parliamentary governments than republican form. The Constitutional Convention in 1787 considered both alternatives and rejected them for the United States for several reasons germane to the American system.
Today the Constitution provides how the President and Vice President are elected. In the near future, that may change, but the Constitution will not have been amended. A compact among various states could supplant the Electoral College System (ECS) for electing the President and Vice President. A compact already exists among fifteen States (plus the District of Columbia) that each of these states’ electoral votes will be legally pledged to the winner of the National Popular Vote, no matter the outcome in that states’ majority vote. If there are sufficient number of States joining the Compact to account for 270 electoral votes (the minimum for election) the Compact will be effective. The approving states currently control 196 Electoral Votes. If the Electoral College System (ECS) winner is also the National Popular Vote (PPV) winner, there will be no difference in the result.
Dispute resolution in an election is much more reasonably resolved by being able to recount or investigate specifically game-changing results in districts or possibly even precinct levels. NPV could result in having to look at numerous whole states, as was the case in 1876 Hayes v. Tilden. Three whole states were involved. The matter was sorted out by the House of Representatives only a few days before Inauguration Day (which was March 4 then, but changed to January 20 in 1931). In 1880 Garfield v. Hancock the margin of NPV was 10,000. The ECS vote was a commanding 214 to 155 result.
In forty-nine (49) of the ECS states the popular vote of the state determines the winner-take-all electoral votes. The NPV creates a political incentive to “run-up the popular vote in the states in which the party has the greatest plurality. It is easily conceivable that the president can be elected today with only eleven states choosing that candidate by a majority. We can only hope that would not happen.
The most egregious matter to (for me) is that the NPV compact is a run-around the Constitution’s means of changing the way presidents are elected. If put into effect, it can be ended just as quickly. This is opposite of the stability of the Constitution’s amendment process. Anti-electoral college amendments have been introduced in the 1950s and 1970s and failed to gain sufficient support to advance. A similar attempt today would undoubtedly not win ratification among the states. A Constitutional premise of the ECS was to assure against only a few regions dominating the election results.
President F.D.Roosevelt planned to have Congress increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court so that he could add sufficient new justices to create a “trustworthy” majority to accept all of the President’s proposals. The Congress, which was easily controlled by the Democrats at this time rejected FDR’s plan as an affront to the people. If the NPV goes through it may be subject to a probable negative outpouring in states whose Electoral College results would be ignored in securing a Presidential victory.
I am personally put off by the fact that my state, Maryland, has passed the required legislation to become active if the conditions mature. I read the Washington Post every day, and have never seen a single mention of the NPV. I first heard about it in a libertarian publication from Hinsdale College. I am nonplussed by the idea and that it has come about by stealth.
Publiustoo.com July 25, 2019