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Thursday, February 13, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The headline “Virginia House approves bill to join National Popular Vote, to bypass Electoral College” (Web, Feb. 11) is misleading. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is not an “end run” on the U.S. Constitution, as is frequently claimed by its opponents.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution explicitly and exclusively leaves it to the states to determine how to assign their Electoral College votes. The compact does nothing more than allow state legislatures to exercise that power so that every vote matters and the presidential candidate with the most votes nationwide wins.


The problem the compact seeks to address arises from winner-take-all awarding of electoral votes, a practice mentioned nowhere in the Constitution and not instituted until the 1820s. Because most states are reliably red or blue, voters in those states don’t matter; the election is decided in just a handful of battleground states.

Electing the candidate by the popular vote is not a partisan issue. According to a national survey by Making Every Vote Count, 71 percent of likely voters agree that the candidate who gets the most votes nationwide should become president, including 88 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents and 61 percent of Republicans. The compact was endorsed by the League of Women Voters in 2010.

Notable conservatives support a national popular vote as well. In 2014, Newt Gringrich wrote, “America would be better served with a presidential election process that treated citizens across the country equally. The National Popular Vote bill accomplishes this in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with our fundamental democratic principles.” He is joined by none other than President Trump, who told Fox & Friends in 2018, “I would rather have the popular vote.”

JONATHAN PERLOE

Greenwich, Conn.


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