Voters in Colorado recently approved their state’s participation in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. States that join the compact agree to give their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate receives the most votes nationwide. By its terms, the compact only takes effect when states with a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes have signed on. To date, 16 jurisdictions (CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NM, OR, RI, NY, VT, and WA), with a total of 196 electoral votes, have joined the compact.
Writing in favor of the compact in the Washington Post, Katrina vanden Heuvel says the compact would usher in, “[a] true ‘one person, one vote’ system [that] would finally give voters in states such as Texas a compelling reason to vote, driving up turnout.”
Is vanden Heuvel correct?
-Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post
Mostly false or misleading. Significant errors or omissions. Mostly make believe.
Our current system for electing the president is a state-by-state, one-person one-vote system. Each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia conducts its own popular vote. And, within each of these jurisdictions, every vote counts equally. Each state’s election determines how its electors will be distributed. The candidate who receives a majority of state electoral votes (270 or more) is the winner of the national presidential election.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is anti-democratic because it would force states to give all of their electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide—even if a majority of voters in that state voted for somebody else! This is a usurpation of the people’s right to determine, one election at a time, how their state will distribute its electoral votes. For example, in 2004, John Kerry won the popular vote in the state of Maine, even though President George W. Bush received the most votes nationwide. Maine cast its four electoral votes for Kerry, in accordance with the wishes of Maine voters. Had the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact been in place in 2004, Maine would have been forced to cast its four electoral ballots for Bush, even though Mainers voted for Kerry.
Although it is true that Republican voters in strong Democratic states and Democratic voters in strong Republican states often feel as if their votes “do not count”, there is no indication that the compact will increase such voters’ participation levels in presidential politics. In fact, it may very well depress turnout, particularly if voters think that the will of their state will be overridden by the majority of voters elsewhere.