The proponents of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact say that they are supporting democracy and fairness. In fact, the result of their proposal would be quite the opposite.
The Compact would make changes the U.S. Constitution forbids. It would weaken the Electoral College and undermine our federal system of independent states as well as our representative democracy.
The U.S. Constitution provides for change through an amendment process. According to the U.S. Constitution, states may not enter compacts without the consent of Congress. The National Popular Vote does not ask for the consent of Congress (Article 1, Section 10).
Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution creates an Electoral College. The Electoral College is the formal body which elects the president and vice president. The Electoral College is composed of representatives from each state plus the District of Columbia and a few territories.
It was created by our country’s founders to resolve the problem of how to elect the president and vice president. Suggestions that America elect the president and vice president by a vote of Congress or by a nationwide popular vote of qualified citizens were rejected.
Some say our current process is undemocratic. Why single out the Electoral College as undemocratic? Would they also say that the Senate and Supreme Court are undemocratic institutions? The Senate is composed of only two representatives per state. The Supreme Court is composed of a small number of judges nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate who serve for life.
Some say the majority, via the nationwide popular vote, should rule. But our government is a federation, a federation of states. It is based on the premise that the winner must build a coalition across the nation, state by state. Our government is representative of all the states, not just of the large urban centers.
Another problem with relying on a nationwide popular vote to elect our president and vice president is that in a presidential election, one candidate or ticket may not receive a majority of the votes. There may be many candidates, and each might represent one region or one issue. We would then get into run-off elections and all sorts of permutations of the present process.
America is a diverse nation, and we succeed best when we think in terms of all the states. The Compact proposes to change the vote of a state whose winner is not the national winner.
In practical terms, what it means is that, if in 2024 if President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence competed for the presidency, and Virginia’s top vote getter was Biden but Pence was the winner of the national vote, all of Virginia’s votes for Biden would be changed to votes for Pence. This is unfair to the citizens of Virginia and unconstitutional as well.
-Linda Greenberg, Alexandria