Presidential Election Reform: National Popular Vote Interstate Compact On Track to Gain 2 More States

The National Popular Vote Compact continues to gain momentum in the current legislative session as legislatures debate the merits of a bill which aims to change the method in which the President of the United States is elected.

The Delaware House recently approved the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.  Delaware is seeking to gain a stronger voice in presidential elections given their small size and 3 electoral votes.  Although there is some debate whether Delaware’s voice would in fact gain strength if the voting procedure were changed.  Also, on Tuesday the New York Senate passed the compact and is waiting on approval from the Assembly for passage.

Supporters of the compact believe it will chart a new course of election strategy by presidential hopefuls by shifting the focus away from so-called battleground states to a sweeping effort targeting all 50 states. 

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would guarantee the Presidency to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  To accomplish this, enough states would have to sign on to the bill to reach the needed 270 of 538 electoral votes.  If this occurs, all of the member state’s electoral votes would go to the presidential candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, regardless if a particular state’s popular vote results favored another candidate. 

To date, the bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, amounting to 77 electoral votes or 29% of the sought after 270 needed to gain majority in the Electoral College. 

But what about the Constitutional implications?

Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution gives the states the right to decide how to appoint its own electors and run its own elections.  Some say the measure is clearly abiding by the Constitution, yet others see the bill as an end-around the Constitution.  The bill does aim to preserve the Electoral College thus circumventing the need to amend the Constitution.  But there are other potential constitutional issues which may arise if the compact were to reach Congress for their stamp of approval, most notably a possible 14thAmendment Equal Protection Clause claim.

With the 2012 Presidential Election just around the corner, it will be interesting to watch the developments of this compact and its influence in the upcoming legislative sessions.