OPINION: Nat’l popular vote good for America
Reed Hundt, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Chairman and CEO of Making Every Vote Count, released the following statement on recent discussion of the flaws inherent to the Electoral College:
“The American people disagree about many aspects of public life. However, they do actually agree on one problem: how we elect the president. In fact, the current system is far more damaging than many realize. Because the pluralities in more than 40 states are predictable, presidential candidates ignore those states in which more than 80% of Americans live. And according to our statistical analysis, popular vote/electoral vote splits could happen in up to 30% of future elections.
“Together we can fix the broken system. One way to do this is through the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. In the last few weeks, Colorado, Delaware, and New Mexico have joined, bringing the total to 15 jurisdictions approving the Compact, with a total of 189 of the 270 electoral votes needed, or 70%.
“In some states that haven’t joined, the people themselves can choose to enact the Compact – and support a national popular vote – through a ballot initiative. There may even be opportunities to do so in 2019 elections or primary elections in 2020. Our polling demonstrates that the majority of Americans of all political affiliations want to elect the President by popular vote. This is confirmed by many other independent polls.”
MEVC is a bipartisan non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that every vote matters equally. We aim to achieve this by making sure the National Popular Vote winner is elected President of the United States.
Here are some things we want Americans to know about the national popular vote:
America wants a national popular vote.
That goal is achievable—without the need for a Constitutional amendment
- By enacting the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, states agree to give their votes to the winner of the national popular vote. If states with 270 votes join the Compact, it will go into effect and the winner of the national popular vote will become the president—no Constitutional amendment needed
- So far, only Democratic-controlled legislatures have passed the Compact. However, our polling demonstrates that people of all political affiliations support the National Popular Vote, even if their elected representatives do not. This is confirmed by many other independent polls.
- In some states, the people themselves can choose to enact the Compact through a ballot initiative. There may even be opportunities to do so in 2019 elections or primary elections in 2020.
Debunking myths about the NPV
- A common criticism of the NPV is that it would lead to candidates only campaigning in big large states or urban areas. As our CEO, former Chairman of the FCC Reed Hundt, can explain, this is false. Just as businesses will always try to reach out to all candidates everywhere, so too will candidates. Social media marketing will make it possible for every candidate to connect with every voter.
- Large states are not monoliths. For example, in 2016 4.5 million people in California voted for Trump and 3.9 million people in Texas voted for Clinton.
- Not enough people live in urban areas to dominate the election—candidates would have to expand their reach if they wanted to win.
- The Electoral College does not protect the interest of small states. Most small states are either solidly red or solidly blue, and thus ignored in favor of a few swing states. Of those swing states, it is the large states—like Florida and Pennsylvania—that get the vast majority of attention.
The Electoral College, as it currently operates, is harmful
- The Electoral College was conceived to preserve slavery, which it effectively did for many years. After abolition, the Electoral College helped prolong the Jim Crow regime in formerly Confederate states.
- The Electoral College still disenfranchises African Americans. Though more than 90% of African Americans have voted for the Democratic candidate in recent presidential elections, the majority of African Americans live in the solidly-red south. Accordingly, their votes don’t count toward the total.
- The Electoral College distorts the way presidents govern as well as how they campaign. For example, there are as many lumberjacks in America as coal miners, yet coal miners get a tremendous amount of attention and subsidies on a national level because coal miners live in battleground states while lumberjacks do not.
- Because the outcome is pre-determined in most states, many people don’t bother to vote. As a result, voter participation is between 20 and 80 million votes short of the levels that would be reached if every vote counted in picking the president.
- “Wrong-winner” elections–where a different candidate wins the popular vote than the national popular vote–may become more common. According to our analysis, there may be an electoral college/popular vote split in up to 30% of future elections.