What is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact?
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement between several states in the United States that agree to elect the presidential candidate with the most popular votes in all fifty states and Washington, D.C.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions that collectively hold 132 electoral votes—or 49% of the 270 electoral votes required to become President of the United States. These states are Vermont, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, California, and Hawaii. The bill has also passed in 31 legislative chambers in 21 different jurisdictions, including the following:
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Shortfalls of the Current System
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is being adopted by states because of “winner-take-all” statutes currently observed by certain states. In these states, the candidate receives all of the electoral votes if they win the popular vote in that state. Therefore, the current system allows a candidate to win the election even if they didn’t win the nationwide popular vote. This has happened during 4 of the 56 elections in our nation’s history.
Another reason the current system is inefficient is because candidates only campaign in swing states. If the candidate is basically guaranteed the popular vote in a particular state or, oppositely, guaranteed to lose the popular vote in the state, they normally won’t campaign in those states. According to the National Popular Vote, the organization pushing for the legislation to enter all states, reports the following:
“In 2004 and 2008, candidates concentrated two-thirds or their visits and ad money in the post-convention campaign in just six closely divided “battleground” states—with 98% going to just 15 states. Two thirds of the states were ignored.”
The presidential elections where the candidate with the most votes nationwide did not win are listed below:
· 1824: Andrew Jackson had most votes nationwide but John Q. Adams had most electoral votes
· 1876: Samuel J. Tilden has most votes nationwide but Rutherford B. Hayes had most electoral votes
· 1888: Grover Cleveland had most votes nationwide but Benjamin Harrison had most electoral votes
· 2000: Al Gore had most votes nationwide but George W. Bush has most electoral votes
Constitutionality of Voting Procedures
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states the following: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress. . . .”
The manner in which the state’s Electoral College members award its votes is not clarified in the constitution. It is a myth that a constitutional amendment is needed to change the way the President is elected. If the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is embraced by all states, the candidate with the most votes nationwide will never lose the election.