It’s High Time For The United States To Elect The President By Popular Vote
While in Helsinki, President Donald Trump again voiced his support for a national popular vote for president. This is the third time he has done so, over the course of five weeks.
A national popular vote for president is the only way to make every Republican voter, in every state, politically relevant, in every presidential election. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is the constitutionally appropriate approach to moving our country to a national popular vote election.
Article II; section I of the US Constitution gives the state legislatures of the various states exclusive power over the method with which electors are chosen. It says, “Each state shall appoint, in such manner the Legislature thereof may direct a number of electors….”. Put bluntly – how the various states choose to award electors is their own business, and any method they choose is consistent with the letter of the Constitution and the intent of the founders.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) simply asks the various legislatures if they would like to join together and award their electors to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The proposal takes effect when states with 270 electoral votes (a majority of the Electoral College) enact the same bill. The proposal has been enacted in twelve states with 172 electoral votes. It has passed Republican and Democrat-controlled chambers and enjoys significant bi-partisan support.
National Popular Vote is not a theory. It is a practical political movement that commands conservative respect for its state-based approach and has earned my personal support for political and policy reasons.
President Trump rightly points to the nearly impossible situation Republicans face under the current state-based, winner-take-all system. He was the first Republican candidate to carry the states of Michigan (my home state), Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 24 years. Before the 2016 election, pundits were pointing to an ominous blue wall for Republican presidential candidates. I believe the blue wall remains intact today. The president agrees.
The current state-based winner takes all systems forces candidates and sitting presidents to focus on issues of interest to a shrinking number of battleground state voters. We are in the midst of a trade skirmish – if not a trade war – because rust belt voters; in rust belt states are the most recent cohort du jour in the swing states. The protectionist foreign policy that results is not in the best interest of port workers in fly over Oregon; wheat farmers in fly-over Kansas or implement manufacturers in Illinois.
Even battleground state industries and products are being targeted for retaliatory tariffs by Canada, Europe, and China. In an effort to “weaponize” the state-based winner take all system these countries have levied or threatened to levy tariffs on HERSHEY’S Chocolate (Pennsylvania); Heinz Ketchup (Ohio), Harley-Davidson Motorcycles (Wisconsin) and GM automobiles (Michigan).
If these trade war examples are a bit too esoteric for you, consider a couple of cold hard facts. Battleground states are twice as likely to get natural disaster declarations and more likely to receive SuperFund and No Child Left Behind waivers from sitting presidents.
It is plain to anyone who is willing to see that battleground state voters have much more influence with the American president than flyover state voters. This wrong is worth righting for a vast majority of the states. A national popular vote for president will right size the political power of battleground state voter issues and make every voter, in every state, politically relevant in every presidential election.
A national popular vote for president will mitigate against fraud determining the outcome of American presidential elections. In the 2000 election, 539 fraudulent votes in a Florida recount could have flipped the entire state to the Democrats and reversed the outcome of that election. The same 539 fraudulent votes would have had zero impact in a national popular vote election of some 150 million voters. National Popular Vote will result in strong and vibrant state and local parties in all fifty states, improving the integrity of American elections in every state and at the level of every precinct in the country.
A national popular vote for president will end the 10 electoral vote advantage the Democrats have under the current system. Electors are based on total number of representatives in Congress from each state. This is determined by the US Census where residents (citizens and non-citizens) are counted in each of the fifty states and members of Congress apportioned accordingly. The counting of non-citizen residents in the US Census results in a 10 net electoral vote advantage for the Democrats in states like California, New Mexico and others.
Overnight, a national popular vote system will turn our presidential elections into a first-past-the-post system (candidate with the most votes wins); in a single member district (the United States of America); among US Citizens (it is illegal for non-citizens to vote in federal and state law).
Like President Trump, I support a national popular vote for president. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is the constitutionally appropriate method to realize a national popular vote election. It preserves Article II; section I of the Constitution and retains the power of the states to reverse the system by choosing other methods at a later date.
I have never been afraid of our conservative ideas or the voters. I believe America is a center-right nation and that we should take our message to every voter in all fifty states. National Popular Vote will allow Republicans and Democrats to do just that. I say we reform the system. Then we line up and beat them.
Saul Anuzis is a senior consultant to National Popular Vote. He is a former state party chair from Michigan and two-time candidate for RNC Chair
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.