Imagine you and your friends are ordering a pizza, but you’re not sure which toppings you want on it. Should you call someone 2000 miles away in another state and pledge to fill your group’s pie with whatever that random person suggests? If you do make that pledge, are you going to regret it when you wind up eating pizza with avocado and escargot on it?
Apparently, that’s how D.C. and 15 states want to choose their Presidential electors now. On Tuesday, Virginia’s House of Delegates brought them one step closer to joining the National Popular Vote Compact (NPVC). When a state passes the NPVC, they’re pledging to surrender their state’s electoral votes to the national popular vote winner.
Think about what that means. These states are willing to go against their own voters and allow people outside of the state to choose their electors. Virginians might want pepperoni on their electoral pizza but that’s just too bad because Californians chose tofu and grapes.
Under the NPVC, if a presidential candidate were to win Virginia but lose the popular vote, the state of Virginia would essentially wad up their own state’s election results, shove them in the dumpster behind the Secretary of State’s office, and send their electors to vote for whichever presidential candidate the other states liked.
Thankfully the NPVC only goes into effect once states totaling 270 electoral votes have passed it; sadly, Virginia would put it at 209 and counting.
If a state is going to let the national vote choose your state electors, why not open their gubernatorial election to neighboring states? Why not let California and New York have a few seats in their state legislature? It would essentially be the same thing — a surrender of the state electorate’s power to outside interests.
Why would a governor and legislature give away their own state’s power like this? Simple. It’s because they’re dedicated to serving a political party above the people of their state.
This is a partisan ploy designed to help soothe the Democratic Party’s never-ending anti-Trump tantrum. It’s impossible to look at the states who have passed it and not see what they all have in common. They’re blue! They’re run by Democrats who currently despise the electoral college — not because of any democratic principle or deep understanding of the Constitution but because it hasn’t benefited their political party in recent years.
They can’t erase the electoral college with a Constitutional amendment because that would require broad consensus — 2/3 in both houses just to propose an amendment and then 38 states to ratify the amendment. Getting rid of the way we’ve elected president since day one isn’t popular enough to make its way into the Constitution, so they found a work-around. A way to do it without the broad consensus required by a Constitutional amendment. A way to rid their party’s candidates from the burden of having to appeal to middle America without needing to muster up broad support.
What you’re watching is an attempt by large population states to seize the power the Constitution affords to small population states. Some of the stupider small state governments, as what I can only presume is a ritual sacrifice to their Democratic Party overlords, have decided to just hand that power over.
When the Constitution was being created, the biggest worry of small population states didn’t was that they wouldn’t have any say in a federal government, and that they would become slaves to the big population states. That was the last thing they wanted. They still remembered being slaves to the British government. That’s why a great compromise created a legislative house where all the states are equally represented, and that’s why they created a system for electing a president which slightly inflated the influence of small population states. Without those compromises, there never would have been a U.S. Constitution.
The Electoral College forces presidential candidates to have to care about middle America and the well-being of the folks who live there.
The NPVC is nothing but short-sighted electioneering by a political party that always wants to change the rules when they lose. It’s the political equivalent of a team losing the World Series and then demanding that it be decided by total runs instead of the total number of games won.
No citizen of any state should be cheering while their own legislature and their own governor pass legislation which surrenders their power to other states. The NPVC is short-sighted and partisan political malpractice.
Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) is assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College.