How can states defend the Electoral College?

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How can states defend the Electoral College?


Key Points

  • States can help to educate voters about the Electoral College by listing presidential electors on the ballot and by passing resolutions explaining its importance.
  • Legislators can call on state attorneys general to begin preparing litigation against the NPV compact should it take effect.
  • State constitutions can explicitly prohibit NPV by barring the votes of nonresidents from being used to choose presidential electors.
  • States have choices about how and when to certify and report election results and can change them in ways that are incompatible with the NPV compact.

Critics of the Electoral College want it either abolished by constitutional amendment or nullified with the National Popular Vote interstate compact (NPV). States have the power to push back against these efforts and defend the Electoral College.

A simple way to help voters understand the two-step process is to list the names of each elector candidate on the ballot. South Dakota does this, listing the slate of electors under the name of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates they are pledged to support.

State legislatures can pass resolutions that explain the benefits of the Electoral College, highlight the dangers of NPV, and direct the state attorney general to challenge the compact in court. The Arizona House and both chambers of the South Dakota legislature passed such resolutions in 2020.

Perhaps the strongest measure is a state constitutional amendment to prohibit the votes of non-residents from being used to choose presidential electors, a new idea being considered in several states. While many constitutions limit voting to residents, it’s not clear whether courts would interpret this to stop NPV. A constitutional amendment would make it clear, prohibiting NPV from taking effect in that state.

A state could also act specifically to prevent NPV from functioning, since the compact relies on the cooperation of states that are not members of the compact. This might include giving residents multiple votes to cast for electors and changing the manner and timeline that election results are certified and reported. Many of the options for defending the Electoral College require great attention to detail, so consulting with knowledgeable experts is highly recommended.