Resistance to the National Popular Vote interstate compact (NPV) today comes from an unexpected corner: Washington Post columnist Charles Lane. He correctly points out that “there is no such thing as a national election for president.”
We have 51 elections for presidential electors, conducted under the authority of each state and the District of Columbia, and each according to their particular rules.
This obvious but insufficiently appreciated reality bears on the debate over the electoral college, whose legitimacy is once again being called into question due to Trump’s victory in 2016….
Lane reminds us that campaigns are run according to the current rules, which differ from state to state. That means the popular vote totals from each state, even when all added up after the upcoming election, “will not represent a reliable measurement of national voter sentiment.” This is a particularly damning criticism of NPV, which attempts to manipulate the Electoral College to force it to rubber-stamp the popular vote result without actually changing the Constitution.
Responding to critics of the Electoral College, Lane warns that “it would be far more complicated than commonly supposed to design and implement a valid direct presidential election.” As Save Our States experts have repeatedly pointed out, the NPV compact does not actually create a national popular vote. Lane agrees, writing that NPV would “award the presidency based on a statistic that was not, strictly speaking, the product of a direct national election for president.”
A true direct election, in which every vote carried equal weight, would entail harmonizing the existing maze of state election laws or replacing it with a brand-new body of federal election law, applicable every four years to the contest for president and vice president, our only two national elected offices. …
There might also have to be provisions for vetting and hiring officials to supervise polling places around the country, standardizing ballots, testing ballot-counting equipment, and, in the event of a dispute, contesting the results — the whole gamut of little details that state laws encompass now. Lawmakers would haggle ferociously over every comma.