As someone who has been involved in the NPVIC (Compact), all of the recent press coverage of various liberal lunatics running for President wanting to eliminate the Electoral College and press a pure national popular vote has generated both confusion among activists and anger towards those of us who have been involved in the Compact. The media and even the candidates refer to everything as simply “national popular vote” and most reporters and even most candidates don’t know the difference between the two. And all sorts of lefties are tweeting about how we can get rid of the Electoral College by passing the compact. So I thought it would be worth laying out the facts.
None of this post is advocating for the compact, the purpose here is to explain the difference between the two approaches. If you want to know why I like the Compact, you can read about it HERE.
What today’s Democrats are pushing for is what the USA Communist Party was pushing for in the middle of the last century – elimination of the Electoral College and a move to a national popular vote that the country could never move away from in the future. Their goal is to further reduce the power of the states that Madison wrote about in Federalist 45 and further consolidate the power in the federal government. They want to strip away the safeguards and dates certain that the Electoral College protects us with because they’re still mad about George W. Bush and Florida, and they want to open up the election of the President to the same types of recount games and fraud they love to play at the state level. They want to push the national election into a pure or direct democracy style of election. These are terrible ideas and should be opposed.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact on the other hand, does not touch the Electoral College in any way. It relies upon the EC and its protections to preserve a system that has worked well for 230+ years. It preserves what is left of the powers that Madison wrote about because it preserves the voices that the states have as individual states. It actually encourages the states to use what little power they have remaining to assert their sovereignty over the Executive branch.
The Electoral College was the founders’ way of ensuring that each state had a voice in the process. The EC is the mechanism by which each state is heard. The number of electors determines how loud of a voice each state gets. Bigger states get a louder voice than smaller states. After that it is up to each state to decide what its voice says. It is up to each state to determine the identity of its electors. It is up to each state to determine how its electors are chosen. At the beginning a number of states simply appointed their electors. When those states changed their method of selection to something else it wasn’t the end of the Electoral College at all, it was them using their constitutional power to act in their own best interests. Massachusetts has changed the manner in which its electors are chosen something like 13 times. The founders deliberately left it up to the states to decide for themselves how the electors are chosen – in other words, they created a system which guaranteed a voice for each state and a formula to determine how loud of a voice, but the voice itself would belong to each state.
This is where most folks go off the rail…. If a group of states determines that they want to work with other states to make their state more relevant, that is entirely okay. It is constitutional, it is consistent with Madison’s writings, etc. The beauty of the Electoral College is that each state has the right to maximize its power and influence over the selection of the President and if states want to team up they are certainly allowed to. In 30 years time those same states might decide they then want to pursue a different method and they will be allowed to do so.
If you find yourself arguing with someone who believes that today’s Winner-Take-All state statutes are somehow originalist or the founders’ intent, ask them to politely go read more books. The founders neither considered, debated, nor voted upon Winner-Take-All as a method and it didn’t become the prevalent method until after the last founding father was dead and buried.
The NPVIC is only 888 words, and most of its critics have never bothered to read it, in spite of how short it is. If they had they would have seen that the Electoral College is never mentioned in the bill until the very end, when it makes it clear that if anyone ever does away with the Electoral College, the compact itself goes away. It is standard language in legislation that takes dead laws off the books if what they are affecting goes away. The fact is that not only does the Compact rely on the powers in Article II Section 1 of the Constitution, it relies on the Electoral College itself. Should the EC go away, the Compact itself goes away. The NPVIC is entirely dependent on the existence of the Electoral College. Best of all, it preserves the right of each participating state to change its mind and choose another method of selecting its electors should it want to in the future.
It is how you know that people who claim the Compact does away with the Electoral College, or that those of us who support the Compact want to do away with the Electoral College, have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. It is a simple truth and clear fact that the Compact only exists with the Electoral College. Anyone claiming otherwise is simply wrong.