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Defending the Electoral College since 2009

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Defending the Electoral College since 2009

NPV defender: “we could have a nuclear war” so ignore compact defects
Sean Parnell • Jan 30, 2024

I’ve heard a lot of defenses of the National Popular Vote interstate compact (NPV) over the years, but I admit being unsure how to respond to a new one from a recent hearing in Maine.

It came from Saul Anuzis, an NPV lobbyist responding to my testimony detailing some of the most significant defects of the compact. Anuzis largely ignored the points I made and instead urged the committee to read a handout that he claimed “addresses nearly all the issues” (it didn’t, but that’s another post). Anuzis then added the following (slightly edited for clarity, available here at approximately 2:09:10):

“For us to somehow be scared… half of Sean [Parnell’s] arguments against it are ‘Well, it might happen or this could happen, or under this circumstance something might come up.’ Well, we could have a nuclear war tomorrow, this committee hearing would be irrelevant if that happened, if the nuke hit the right place.”

In case it’s not clear, the “it,” “this,” and “something” that might or could happen under NPV are the entirely predictable chaos and crises that would occur as a result of various of the compact’s flaws. For example, if it wasn’t clear who won under NPV because of a dispute about using ranked choice voting results in the national count, that would lead to chaos and crisis.

As best I can tell, the point Anuzis was trying to make was: Don’t worry about alleged defects in the compact and their likely consequences, because… well, just don’t worry about them, they’re only hypothetical. What, Me Worry?, seize the day, YOLO, etc.

That’s… one approach to legislation, I suppose.

Alternately, legislators can – and in my experience, most of them do, even if I don’t always agree with their end conclusions – ask questions like: “What could go wrong?” and “How serious would it be if something did go wrong?”

It turns out that there’s a lot that could go wrong under NPV, many of them things that either have happened before (though not under NPV, of course) or are easily foreseeable. States have, in fact, reported incomplete and inaccurate vote totals. Major party candidates have, in my lifetime, finished in third place in a state, which could erase hundreds of thousands of votes (or more) from that candidate’s national vote totals if the state used ranked choice voting. And recounts can extend past the deadline that NPV requires vote counting to be completed and reported, leaving it to compacting states to estimate vote totals from those states.

In other words, these are hardly hypothetical – these are things that have happened and are likely to happen again, or are not difficult to predict, and would cause chaos under NPV.

So I guess I do have a response: I believe legislators should ask “What could go wrong?” and then evaluate the likelihood and severity of those possibilities. I especially hope they’ll look to history as a guide for what’s likely to happen in the future. That approach, rather than NPV’s “What, Me Worry?” attitude, seems more appropriate to serious issues like whether we should change how the nation elects the president.

Time is running out

There is a real, immediate threat to the constitutional way we elect our president. National Popular Vote is 76% of the way to implementing their dangerous plan.