Proposals to enact a National Popular Vote compact and make an “end run” around the Electoral College for choosing presidents is a serious threat to America, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said during a speech today at The Heritage Foundation.

Watch a video of McConnell’s remarks (3:06-21:50):

Under the NPV compact, states would pledge their states’ electors to the presidential candidate who wins a majority of the national popular vote. The compact would go into effect once states with 270 electoral votes have ratified the plan. So far, eight states and the District of Columbia are on board, giving the plan 132 electoral votes.

Although the idea of a popular vote sounds appealing on paper, the plan compromises the Constitution, McConnell argued. Heritage legal scholar Hans von Spakovsky agrees:

The NPV compact is not only unconstitutional, but it is also bad public policy that would undermine the protections of the Electoral College. It would diminish the influence of smaller states and rural areas of the country; lead to more recounts, contentious fights over provisional ballots, and conflicts over the results of presidential elections; and encourage voter fraud. It could also radicalize American politics and lead to Presidents who are elected with very small pluralities, or who failed to qualify for the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It strikes directly at the Founders’ view of federalism and a representative republic that balances popular sovereignty with structural protections for state governments and minority interests.

Moreover, McConnell noted the plan suffers practical flaws as well.

  • It gives the most populous states outsize weight in choosing the President.
  • State rules on voter eligibility are undermined. For example, felons in Maine might sway how New York allocates its electoral votes—even though felons cannot vote in New York.
  • Recounts and legal challenges would not be limited to a single state but would expand to every precinct in the country as campaigns look to maximize their advantage.
  • And in some circumstances, a state’s electoral voters might go to a candidate whose name didn’t even qualify for the ballot in that state!

What do you think? Is the NPV a cause for concern?

Comments (4)

Rich Rubino - December 9, 2011

Please visit this blog for an alternative perspective.

David Smith - December 9, 2011

Popular vote would allow politicians to purchase votes in high density areas with pork at the expense low density areas

Robert Ryan - December 10, 2011

I was recently involved in a conversation about revising the E.C. The idea was to separate major cities from rural areas but keep the total number of votes the same for each state. For example if a state had 50 votes, 30 may be assigned to a major city ( L.A). and 20 to the rest of the state. The votes would go to the winning candidate in each area and not the total of 50 to one candidate. But wouldn’t any change require a constititional amendment?

Mr. Jenkins - December 11, 2011

I clicked on the link provided by Mr. Rubino and was advised that that domain is for sale. Not impressive.

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