At Save Our States, we support the Electoral College. But even opponents of the Electoral College recognize dangerous flaws in the National Popular Vote interstate compact (NPV).
Andy Katz, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, likes the idea of directly electing the president. But he writes that NPV “has a serious flaw that would likely undermine not only coalitions but the very legitimacy of the presidency.”
The flaw he identifies is NPV’s lack of any minimum threshold to win. Because of this, Katz points out that NPV would encourage “wealthy, populist or more extreme candidates to run, hoping moderate candidates split the rest of the vote.”
Katz is correct on this point. The Electoral College requires a majority to win, or else the president is chosen by the House of Representatives (which has not happened since 1824). NPV short circuits this protection, but fails to replace it. Because of this, NPV would encourage more candidates to run and result in winners with smaller and smaller pluralities. This would empower splinter parties and spoiler candidates like never before.
“Election by 30 percent of the popular vote,” writes Katz, “even of a mainstream Democrat or Republican — would undermine legitimacy of the presidency far more than anything under the current system.”