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Defending the Electoral College and the Constitution since 2009

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NPV compact losing electoral votes?
Trent England • May 09, 2024

Yes, the NPV compact has lost electoral votes twice despite no state (yet) repealing it. How is that possible?

The answer reveals one more way the compact is unstable—and poorly drafted. Every ten years, the number of congressional seats allocated to each state is reapportioned based on the census. This, in turn, changes the number of electoral votes in those states.

In 2010, there were six states that had joined the NPV compact. Three of them lost one congressional seat each (Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) and one gained a seat (Washington state). This means the NPV compact went backwards, from 76 electoral votes to 74. By 2020, there were 15 states in the compact. Another three lost one seat, while two gained a seat, for a net loss to NPV of one electoral vote.

Those were minor shifts; 2030 is predicted to be more profound. The latest estimate is that California alone will lose four congressional seats following that census. New York is predicted to lose three and Illinois two. Three other NPV states are predicted to lose one seat each, and no state in the compact is predicted to gain any seats. This would be a net loss of twelve electoral votes.

What does the NPV compact have to say about this? Nothing. In fact, the NPV campaign’s website and massive self-published book appear to make no mention of how reapportionment could affect the compact. Just like on recounts, ballot access issues, election contests, disputes among states, and every other thorny election issue, the NPV compact creates new questions but provides no answers.

Based on the compact text, it appears that reapportionment would toggle the compact on or off. In other words (setting aside NPV’s other legal and practical problems), the entire presidential election process could change based on whether some Americans move into or out of NPV states.

At this point, Americans are overwhelmingly moving out of NPV states. This makes it not just possible, but likely, that should the compact add a few more states and cross the 270 hurdle (again, setting aside legal challenges that ought to void the compact), it would take effect only until the next reapportionment. What happens at that point is less than clear since the compact text makes no mention of any of this.

Even those who desire a direct election of the president ought to see that the NPV interstate compact is no way to construct an election process.