Partners of the National Popular Vote effort, which seeks to bypass the Electoral College established in the U.S. Constitution, have announced a possible “December surprise” that could change the nation’s electoral system by 2016.
The NPV campaign is working to obtain the consent of the majority of the 538 votes in the Electoral College to award electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote instead of the winner of the popular vote in each state.
In an opinion piece published Nov. 7 by Roll Call, Rob Richie, executive director of the electoral reform group FairVote, and FairVote democracy fellow Claire Daviss, urged Pennsylvania and Michigan to join the interstate pact to usurp the Electoral College.
Their piece was titled “December Surprise? States May Change The Electoral College System Before 2016.”
Wrote Richie and Daviss: “Two years from now, we will have just elected a new president. We know the election date: Nov. 8, 2016. What we don’t know is just how our votes will count. Under the Constitution, states decide how to allocate Electoral College votes – and there are rumblings of change.”
Last April, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the National Popular Vote, or NPV, bill, making his state the 11th to enact the plan. With the passage of the bill, the interstate compact now has 61 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to put it into effect.
Aside from New York, other states that already signed up are the heavily blue states of Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, Vermont, California and Rhode Island. The District of Columbia also has joined the pact.
The states will not be required to award their electoral votes to the national popular vote winner until the NPV has signed up enough states to garner 270 electoral votes.
After Cuomo’s signing of the law, the New York Post warned in an editorial the NPV effort could “undermines small-d democracy.”
The Post quoted then-Sen. John F. Kennedy stating, “Direct election would break down the federal system under which states entered the union, which provides a system of checks and balances to ensure that no area or group shall obtain too much power.”
Others have warned a national popular vote could ultimately lead to more vote fraud, arguing the Electoral College isolates the impact of such fraud to each state.
The Founding Fathers firmly rejected a purely popular vote to elect the president, because they wanted to balance the power of the larger and smaller states. The Electoral College was fashioned as a compromise between an election of the president by direct popular vote and election by Congress.
Now the NPV effort could change the way Americans elect the president without amending the U.S. Constitution. The plan simply requires that enough states join through votes in their legislatures along with gubernatorial approval.
It takes two-thirds of both the House and Senate to pass a constitutional amendment to repeal the Electoral College.
To bypass the constitutional amendment process, NPV minimizes the number of states that would need to agree. Instead, once enough states agree to allot electoral votes to the national popular vote winner, the Electoral College becomes irrelevant.
Written by AARON KLEIN
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