Arguments and statements against the National Popular Vote (NPV) Compact include the following, with the LWV’s rebuttal written by the LWVAK Advocacy Chair, Judy Andree:
- 1. “But your votes do count under the current method.” This is not fully true given that the Presidential election is a national election and all votes should count at that national level. Most states use the winner-take-all method of voting their electoral votes. The state majority wins the total number of electoral votes and those are cast for the state majority candidate–a red state goes for the red candidate and vice versa. However, voters are not voting for a state position, but rather the President of all states, one who represents all citizens. In the current method, if you vote for the other candidate/candidates your votes stop counting in any meaningful way at the state line. Yes, your votes are “counted,” but not in a way that allows you representation at the national level. To quote the League of Women Voters, “Presidential elections are fundamentally about people (not states) choosing a president.”
- 2. “The NPV increases the chance of voter fraud.” Voter fraud is frequently thought by some to be a serious issue in elections. While that may have been true in the past, actual voter fraud is minimal to nonexistent today and does not occur in numbers that can change an election outcome at the national level. The fraud that does occur is in the form of voter suppression and gerrymandering districts to give certain classes of voters less voice than their numbers might have in a fairer redistricting system. Allowing the results of the popular vote to determine the Presidency would make voter fraud less likely because the vote is dealing with millions of votes spread across multiple states.
- 3. “Voters pushing for the NPV Compact are sore losers due to the 2016 election and should just get over the fact that they lost the election.” The history of the NPV Compact dates back decades before the two most recent elections when the winner had the electoral vote but not the popular vote (Bush vs Gore and Trump vs Clinton). The League history, which includes a call to abolish the electoral college and turn to the popular vote, dates back to the late 1960’s when the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) began a study that lasted several years and involved local and state Leagues nationwide. In 1970, the League adopted a position supporting the national popular vote as the only fair way to elect a President and a Constitutional amendment to abolish the use of electors or the electoral college. In 2010, after studying the National Popular Vote Compact, LWVUS amended that position to include the NPV Compact as an acceptable way to use the popular vote until such time as an amendment could be passed. In 2011 during the Alaska Legislative Session, the LWV of Alaska supported the NPV Compact bill that was introduced. All of this occured long before 2016.
- 4. “This is a liberal idea and I don’t want a red state to have to cast their votes for a liberal candidate.” Many people from all sides of the spectrum have supported the NPV Compact. In a 2010 poll by Public Policy Polling of 800 Alaskans, the following results were tallied: “By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote was 66% among Republicans, 78% among Democrats, 70% among Nonpartisan voters, 82% among Alaska Independent Party voters, and 69% among others.” Most Alaskans were willing to trust the informed American voters across the country to pick the best candidate.
- 5. “The Founding Fathers set up the electoral college and we should trust their judgement.” Actually the Founding Fathers pondered how best to elect the President, took many votes, examined many methods, and came up with what we have today in Article II. What they did not do was establish an electoral college, but rather electors selected however each state determined; there is no mention of the electoral college in the original Constitution. Another item that the original Constitution does not establish is the right of individual citizens to vote for the President. Today we elect electors using the popular vote in mainly a winner-take-all method. And these elections are heavily controlled by the political parties, which also did not exist at the time the Constitution was written. In fact, George Washington warned against political parties in his 1776 Farewell Address. He stated the following: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, . . .is itself a frightful despotism.” Washington further explained that parties, and the “disorders and miseries” that might result, can lead to “absolute power of an individual.” A public so distracted by “ill-founded jealousies and false alarms,” can open the “door to foreign influence and corruption.” So we have already moved a considerable distance from the original intent of the Founding Fathers by using a winner-take-all popular vote at the state level to select party-oriented electors in order to elect a president at the national level. We might better get a method more in tune with the original intent by adopting a popular vote approach. Yes, the original intent rested on electors and not the popular vote, but electors without the bias of political parties; that originality would be difficult to return to, but the popular vote would give every citizen’s vote an equal count, surely bolstering a better sense of unity than the current method, a unity that for Washington was essential for the health of the nation. No more red states or blue states, just citizens voting for their president.
- 6. “The NPV would not protect the smaller states like Alaska.” The facts show that the smaller states are not protected under the current method. These states have usually no more than 3 Representatives in the House where much legislation is hatched and two Senators, as all states have. Small state protection in the House is tenuous at best. In addition, small states get very little to no consideration by Presidential candidates. In the 2016 election it was projected that the election would be determinded by 11 states and only one of those eleven is in the list of the 13 smallest states. By disregarding in 2016 nearly 48.8% of the Alaskan citizens who voted for other candidates than the winner, this state had even less clout as far as being heard nationwide and as far as fostering unity.
The League continues to support the popular vote as the fairest way to elect the President, as it has since 1970. The League hopes that HB 175 passes.