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National Popular Vote lobbyists contradict themselves on using estimated vote totals
Sean Parnell • Nov 02, 2023
The following is adapted from an upcoming memo responding to a series of recent claims made by lobbyists for the National Popular Vote interstate compact.

Lobbyists for the National Popular Vote interstate compact (NPV) have a habit of labeling as a “myth” anything that is even slightly critical of or unhelpful to the compact. Earlier this year, I testified to several state legislative committees about the numerous defects in the compact. Suffice it to say, those NPV lobbyists were not amused, and fired back with claims that I was making “false statements” to these committees.

Not surprisingly, their claims fall apart very quickly with just a brief glance at the evidence. For example, after I explained in these hearings that under certain circumstances the compact could use estimated vote totals rather than real vote totals, NPV’s lobbyists claimed in a memo of their own that “There is nothing in the NPV Compact that authorizes anyone to estimate vote counts.” This is contradicted by testimony from two of their lobbyists against an anti-NPV bill that would keep North Dakota’s vote totals secret to thwart the compact. According to Saul Anuzis, a longtime lobbyist for the organization, if a state’s official election results were unavailable:

“...the chief election officials of the two dozen or so states belonging to the compact are not going to throw up their hands and declare that the world has come to an end. Instead, the chief election official of each compacting state would still be required by their state’s law to “determine the number” and to determine which presidential candidate received the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”

Pat Rosenstiel, the other longtime National Popular Vote lobbyist, explained how the chief election officials of member states would have the power to “determine” and “assign” vote totals for states lacking a publicly available “official statement” by the time the compact requires:

“I can tell you that the chief election officials of the compacting states will make a determination based on the turnout that’s reported, the percentage of the vote that’s reported under this law, and they would determine how many votes to assign to a Republican and a Democratic candidate... assign that as the votes coming out of North Dakota....

I think that the compacting states... can look at your turnout number, look at the percentages that you report, assign vote values to Republicans and Democrats [and] award their electors in any manner they deem is in their best interest....”

Rosenstiel also claimed that the details of the North Dakota legislation would allow the chief election officials in NPV member states to:

“...get much closer to what your actual vote total was, and it’s up to the chief election official of the member state to make a determination to the best of their ability based on the data provided from the state....”

Rather than address these statements by its own lobbyists, National Popular Vote, Inc. pretends they don’t exist, and that the compact’s silence is an answer rather than an ambiguity. As these two longtime National Popular Vote lobbyists explained, the compact requires the chief election official of each member state to “determine” the vote totals for non-member states even if there are no official vote totals available and does not provide any guidance or guardrails on how to do so.