Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Update your browser
Defending the Electoral College and the Constitution since 2009

what are you looking for?


Does John Koza understand his own plan?
Trent England • Apr 08, 2024

Sean Parnell and I have written many times about the conflicts between ranked-choice voting (RCV) and John Koza’s National Popular Vote interstate compact (NPV). Last week, I raised these questions with a journalist who then put them to Koza himself. His answer suggests that either he does not understand his own proposal or he intends to bluster through even if it means creating his very own constitutional crisis.

In a nutshell, RCV ballots and counting are fundamentally different than a normal election process. Instead of picking one candidate, voters rank some or all of them. Instead of counting votes once, RCV ballots may be counted over and over with adjustments in between. During this process, candidates get eliminated—along with all the votes for those candidates, which may be shifted to lower-ranked candidates on those ballots.

RCV produces a new set of results after each round of counting, so which results would be used to create a “national popular vote”? The compact doesn’t say because it was written before any state used RCV to choose presidential electors. Today, two states do just that.

Koza claims it all “works fine” because those states have decided “that the final-round RCV count are the numbers to be used.” This makes no sense, because Koza’s compact does not give states using RCV any power dictate which results are used by other states. Instead each compact state must decide for itself which results to use as it compiles the “national” result that will bind only that one compacting state. Why? Because the compact can only effect states that have passed the compact.

Here’s what the NPV compact says: “the chief election official of each member state shall determine the number of votes for each presidential slate in each State of the United States and in the District of Columbia…and shall add such votes together to produce a ‘national popular vote total’ for each presidential slate.” All of the power under the compact is in the hands of that “chief election official” within each “member state” (but only for that one state).

The compact does require the state official to “treat as conclusive an official statement containing the number of popular votes in a state for each presidential slate.” But this is more open ended than it seems because states produce many different “official statement[s]” with vote totals. These statements include documents prepared under both state and federal law, as well as intermediate reports of vote totals at the local and state levels. In current RCV elections, these official statements include results from multiple stages in the process. Look at Alaska’s “official statement” after the 2022 U.S. Senate race. If the compact was in effect and, for example, the Secretary of State of Illinois needed to obtain vote totals from Alaska to include in the national vote count, the official statements that include vote totals from all stages of the RCV process would require that the Secretary of State make a choice of which totals to use.

There is only one way for a state to force NPV states to use a particular report of its election results—release an “official statement” that only contains the final vote totals, and no other. As it stands this would violate the law and probably offend modern sensibilities about transparency. But short of this, Koza’s statement makes no sense and seems designed to mislead readers about how the compact works.