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June 17 2019

Attempts to Bypass Electoral College Pick Up Steam

by Jennifer C. Braceras

The effort to bypass the Electoral College continues to pick up steam.

Last week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a bill adding that state to a national interstate compact to elect the President by nationwide popular vote. State signatories to the agreement pledge to give all of their electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote — even if a majority in the state voted for somebody else. Oregon is now the 15th state plus the District of Columbia to sign on to the compact.

By its terms, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact only takes effect when states with a combined 270 electoral votes (the number needed to win the presidency in Electoral College) have joined. With the addition of Oregon, the NPVIC is 196 votes toward its goal.

 The compact is probably unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution establishes the procedures for presidential elections, and it is unlikely that the Supreme Court would approve a backdoor attempt to change the constitutionally prescribed rules without a constitutional amendment.

That hasn’t stopped a number of so-called Blue states, where lawmakers remain aggrieved over the results of the 2016 presidential election, from trying to change the rules by any means possible.  

Just two weeks after a bipartisan group of Maine legislators rejected the measure, the Maine House succumbed to heavy pressure from Democratic leadership and reversed course.

According to the  Portland Press-Herald:

The fate of the bill remains unclear, however, because it faces additional procedural votes in both the House and Senate. . . .The bill, L.D. 816, now goes back to the Senate for a final enactment vote but will also need to pass the House again before being sent to Gov. Janet Mills for her consideration.

Not all Blue states, however, support the compact.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, vetoed legislation that would have made his state a signatory to the compact.  In a letter to the speaker of the Nevada Assembly, Sisolak wrote that joining the compact “could leave a sparsely populated Western state like Nevada with a greatly diminished voice in the outcome of national electoral contests.” He’s right.

As Gary L. Gregg explained recently in the HIll:

Nevada has been a fairly reliably competitive state in the 20th and 21st centuries. It has voted with the winner of the presidency more than 85 percent of the time since 1900. Since FDR’s first election, Democrats have won Nevada in 12 presidential elections and Republican candidates won it in 10. President Bush won it twice, but so did Barack Obama. Though the state has been moving more reliably Democratic, it has been a state that can often command the attention of candidates.

With the current Electoral College system, a close presidential election could hinge on Nevada’s six electoral votes. This gives the state some clout, which means its interests can gain some attention. [Without the Electoral College] Nevada will no longer have enough marginal votes to make it worth a candidate's attention.

The Founders understood that a nationwide popular vote would marginalize voters in less populous places, such as Nevada and Maine. Yet some states, nevertheless, seem intent on committing political suicide.

Listen to IWF’s conversation with Electoral College expert Tara Ross HERE.

Learn more about our Electoral College system HEREHERE, and HERE.





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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