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Why does NPV hide behind the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections?
Trent England • Oct 19, 2022

Did you hear the one about the boy who was so ugly, his mom had to tie a squirrel around his neck to get the dog to play with him?

Terrible, I know. But it came to mind when I saw how the National Popular Vote campaign is trying to trick elected officials.

Here is the beginning of an invitation sent to some Republican legislators:

Good Morning,

The Institute for Research on Presidential Elections is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that studies the process of electing the president of the United States.

I am writing to invite you to participate in an invitation-only educational seminar on presidential elections and the Electoral College that will take place in Miami Beach, Florida from Thursday, November 17th through Saturday, November 19th. Our main session will begin on Friday morning, September 18th at 8:30 am sharp.

This seminar is organized for legislators from around the country. It will study how the Electoral College system works and investigate proposals to allocate electoral votes proportionally, by congressional district and using the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Increasingly, Americans are concerned about the impact of the current Electoral College rules. Although the 2020 presidential election is behind us, it is, in fact, an ideal time to analyze prospective changes now, rather than closer to the 2024 election.

The mistakes are in the original. The quoted section contains the single reference to National Popular Vote, just one item in a list of “proposals” that will be “investigated” by this studious research institute. But who exactly is the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections?

The group is run by NPV, Inc. lobbyists and funded by NPV’s founder, John Koza. In other words, it’s an NPV front group. So why hide the fact? Two reasons.

One is classic sales tactics, familiar to anyone who’s attended a timeshare or multi-level marketing presentation. If you want people to do something they would normally refuse, get them out of their accountability structure and away from dissenting voices. Create an environment where it appears everyone else is in agreement. NPV makes it appear that everyone at their “research” group just happens to support NPV. And, of course, booze helps. Politico’s Tim Alberta, who is supportive of NPV, wrote this about the junkets:

the most viable campaign to change how Americans choose their leader is being waged at booze-soaked junkets in luxury hotels around the country and even abroad, as an obscure entity called the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections peddles a controversial idea: that state legislatures can put the popular-vote winner in the White House.

Another reason for NPV’s bashfulness is that this tactic isn’t popular with voters. When it came to light in Oklahoma and Michigan, blowback against Republican legislators was intense. Some credit the reaction for a few legislators losing subsequent elections. Just this year in Oklahoma, Rep. Avery Frix lost a primary bid for Congress after his flirtation with NPV became an issue. NVP hides behind the innocuous-sounding Institute to provide a little more protection for legislators—from their own constituents.

Oh, did I mention, NPV’s Institute pays for the whole thing. Here’s what the invitation promises legislators:

To facilitate your attendance, we provide scholarships that can cover all your costs associated with travel and accommodation.

Tempting, right? A free trip to a tropical resort, all expenses paid, just to listen to a few “researchers” talk about presidential elections. What could possibly go wrong?

State legislators, and their constituents, deserve to know the real agenda of the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections. When NPV hides its agenda, they avoid the transparency that is important to democracy. They also reveal just how little faith they have in their own message and their ability to convince people in a fair and balanced discussion of how we elect the President of the United States.