Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

April 11, 2007

Maryland Sidesteps The Constitution

by Doug Mataconis

Yesterday, Maryland became the first state to pass a bill signing on to the so-called National Popular Vote, a plan whereby states would agree to give their Electoral College votes to the candidate who received the most popular votes nationwide.

Last week, I wrote about the Constitutional problems with an interstate compact that seeks to sidestep the clear language and intent of the Constitution. Today, Brendan Loy, fresh off writing a law school term paper on the Electoral College points out just how bad an idea the National Popular Vote would be:

If you want a direct popular election, you have to eliminate the Electoral College, not just circumvent it. More importantly, you have to eliminate it and replace it with something, namely an altogether new and unprecedented numerical organism called the “national popular vote.” Presently, there is no official accounting of the national popular vote — it is little more than an invention of the news media, and Dave Leip — and incredibly, the “interstate compact” plan doesn’t even attempt to remedy this glaring problem. Instead, it leaves the tallying up of the nationwide numbers to the individual states, meaning that if (or rather, when) a close national election leads to disputed tallies in multiple states, each “compact” state would have the responsibility of deciding which numbers from the disputed states to add into the tally. You could (or rather, would) have different states awarding their electors on the basis of different accountings of the national popular vote.

In other words Bush v. Gore, times fifty-one.

The one saving grace right now is that it’s unlikely that any states will be joining Maryland in this strange little escpade anytime soon. Even so, the National Popular Vote is an idea that needs to be killed in its infancy.

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  • Richard Winger

    The federal government already does its own official tally of the national popular vote. The FEC must do this tally, to know which parties are eligible for presidential public funding. Two separate agencies of the federal government compile the national popular vote, the Clerk of the US House of Representatives, and the FEC.

  • John Koza

    There is indeed an “official accounting of the national popular vote Current federal law (Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states to report the November popular vote numbers (the “canvas”) in what is called a “Certificate of Ascertainment.” You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of the popular vote at the NARA web site.

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