Just the Facts: "Electoral College Vs. National Popular Vote"

FACT 1 - LD 816, "An Act To Implement the National Popular Vote for President of the United States" is sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson (D).

This bill seeks to nullify the Electoral College by entering Maine into an “interstate compact,” binding Maine’s 4 Presidential Electoral Votes to the so-called “National Popular Vote.”

If passed, this law would go into effect once a number of states representing a majority of the 538 Presidential Electors join the compact.

Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia have entered the interstate compact, accounting 172 electoral votes (32% of total electoral votes), including:

California (55), New York (29), Illinois (20), New Jersey (14), Washington (12), Massachusetts (11), Maryland (10), Connecticut (7), Rhode Island (4), Hawaii (4), Vermont (3) and Washington, D.C. (3)

Legislation to join the compact is pending in 17 additional states, accounting for an additional 167 electoral votes (31% of total electoral votes), including:

Florida (29), Ohio (18) Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), Indiana (11), Arizona (11), Minnesota (10), Colorado (9), South Carolina (9), Oregon (7), Nevada (6), Kansas (6), New Mexico (5), Maine (4), New Hampshire (4), Idaho (4) and Delaware (3).

If passed in enough states this year, NPV could be put into effect for the 2020 Presidential Election.

FACT 2 - The Electoral College ensures small states (like Maine) have a voice in the election of US Presidents.

As a small population state, Maine represents 0.4% of the national population, but 0.74% of the Electoral College.

A National Popular Vote system would cut Maine’s voting power in nearly half and primarily benefit large population states like California, New York and Texas.

FACT 3 - A National Popular Vote fails the standard of “one person, one vote” because there are no universal standards for voting across all 50 states.

Qualifications for Voters: There is no universal standard for who can vote.

- In some states (like Maine) convicted felons are allowed to vote (even while serving in prison), while in other states (like Iowa) they lose their voting rights for life.

- Meanwhile, states like Oregon and Hawaii have proposed lowering the voting age to 16 years old, while the rest of the states maintain the voting age at 18 years old.

Methodology for Voting: There is no universal standard for how people vote.

- Some states (like Oregon) require people to vote by mail, while most states (like Maine) allow people to vote in person on Election Day.

Most states (like Wisconsin) require voters to present identification to vote, while others (like Maine) do not.

- Some states (like Maine) allow same-day voter registration, while other states (like Florida) do not.

FACT 4 - The Electoral College protects against voter fraud, whereas a National Popular vote system would increase potential for corruption.

Under NPV, ballot stuffing in Chicago or North Carolina would negate our votes here in Maine. Under the Electoral College, the integrity of Maine’s vote is protected because votes across America are compartmentalized by state.

An additional benefit of “compartmentalization” by the Electoral College is that Presidential elections are commonly decided by “swing states” (like Maine and New Hampshire) where the two major parties are likely to share power. This power sharing creates accountability and oversight structures over elections in these states that are less common in states dominated by a single political party (like California and Texas).

FACT 5 - The Electoral College makes recounts manageable, whereas a National Popular Vote system would make recounts a colossal logistical nightmare.

Recounts of individual states under the Electoral College system can be expensive and chaotic (as we witnessed in Florida during the 2000 election), but these efforts are simple compared to the giant circus that would result from a nationwide recount.

Over 129 million votes were cast nationwide in the 2016 US Presidential Election. Can you imagine a national recount requiring each and every one of these ballots to be hand counted?

FACT 6 - The "National Popular Vote Interstate Compact" is unconstitutional under Article I, Section 10 of the US Constitution.

Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3 explicitly reads: "No State shall, without the Consent of Congress... enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State..."

This proposed interstate compact is not being acted on with the consent of Congress, thereby making it unconstitutional.

Just the Facts.

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  • Brian Jordan
    commented 2019-03-08 15:03:07 -0500
    As I said, I think the current Maine system works moderately okay for Maine, but scaled to other states would spell disaster.

    NPV by comparison simply allows a Democratic vote in Texas and Wyoming and a Republican vote in California and Massachusetts (and Maine CD1) to matter.
  • Brian Jordan
    commented 2019-03-08 14:53:56 -0500
    True. I was critiquing David Bright’s testimony.
  • Heather Sirocki
    commented 2019-03-08 14:23:16 -0500
    The proposal before the Maine legislature does not involve apportioning by
    Congressional District.
  • Brian Jordan
    commented 2019-03-08 13:38:57 -0500
    Allow me to rephrase then. Recent history (and much of American history has clearly shown that when politicians are given the power to choose their own voters for partisan advantage, they do so in ways that can effectively cement their power base at the cost of competitive elections, the foundations on which our republic is founded, and on which we hold our lawmakers accountable.

    In short, Gerrymandering is used to election-proof one’s political power. A district-by-district system would expose the Presidency to this practice.
  • Heather Sirocki
    commented 2019-03-08 13:35:04 -0500
    Brian, Belittling people with whom you are engaging is counterproductive.
  • Brian Jordan
    commented 2019-03-08 13:27:46 -0500
    You’d have to be living under a rock to believe that is true. It would simply make it easier for state lawmakers to use creative mapmaking to rig the Presidency, the same way that they have for Congress for the last two decades. Instead of voters choosing politicians, politicians choose voters. One person one vote nationwide.
  • Heather Sirocki
    commented 2019-03-08 12:17:53 -0500
    Maine and Nebraska allow their electors to be more representational by apportioning electors according the regional outcomes of Congressional Districts. This is legal and a far better option than the winner-take all, illegal, NPV proposal to enfranchise voters’ voices.
  • Brian Jordan
    commented 2019-03-08 11:24:05 -0500
    He lost me when he advocated to subject all presidential elections to partisan gerrymandering. A nationalized version of the Maine-Nebraska system, which works moderately okay in states with two congressional districts, would worsen issue of voter disenfranchisement in presidential elections.
  • Heather Sirocki
    commented 2019-03-08 10:50:55 -0500
    Democrat and former elector David Bright’s testimony is compelling: http://www.legislature.maine.gov/bills/getTestimonyDoc.asp?id=96498
  • Heather Sirocki
    commented 2019-03-08 10:48:46 -0500
  • Brian Jordan
    commented 2019-03-08 10:12:40 -0500
    Fact 5: True with the caveat that recounts would be exceedingly rare, since even JFK’s .17% margin in 1960 was more than 100,000 votes. In a nation of 300 million people, the chances of the numbers being so close that the outcome is in doubt is considerably less than in elections with smaller populations.

    Fact 6: Assuming this is true, that doesn’t make it unconstitutional. That simply means that it would require a simple majority vote in Congress to take effect. In the meantime, states interested in the compact are free to proceed.
  • Brian Jordan
    commented 2019-03-08 10:09:15 -0500
    For a “Fact” based article, this one is pretty factually challenged.

    Fact 2: According to James Madison, The EC was designed so that slave states, such as Virginia, would be able to maintain significant influence in electing the President while maintaining the institution of slavery. It was a compromise to preserve the union.

    Fact 3: While states can regulate the vote to an extent, their power to do so is limited in many ways by the constitution. (You can’t stop women from voting for example) NPV recognizes state autonomy on nuts and bolts matters, but ultimately, whoever gets the most votes wins.

    Fact 4: It is much harder to fraudulently swing a popular vote than it is to swing an electoral college election. To fraudulently flip the electoral college in 2000, it would’ve taken 600 votes in Florida, or half a million nationally In 2004, 60k in Ohio, 3 million nationally. In 2016, less than 100,000 votes in 3 states. Or 3 million nationally.