NPV Compact – for the 7th or 8th time: It sounds good but has Unintended Consequences

On Monday we testified against the National Popular Vote Compact.  We have been testifying against it since it was first proposed in Connecticut in 2007. There are two companion bills, you can link to them from our testimony <here> We have been saying pretty much the same things for the last several years. Each year we hone our testimony a bit and listen to new and predominant arguments from the proponents and make small adjustments.  Here is the excerpt I spoke on Monday, with the changes for this year highlighted:

Chairs and members of the Committee, my name is Luther Weeks, Executive Director of CTVotersCount. I am a computer scientist and a certified election moderator.

I understand the theoretical advantages of the national popular vote, yet there are extreme risks in its mismatch with our existing state-by-state voting system.

Many concepts such as Nuclear Power, GMOs, DDT, and Fracking have benefits, but also have unintended, unrecognized, and unappreciated consequences. This Compact is another.

What often appears simple is not. The Compact would cobble the national popular vote onto a flawed system designed for the Electoral College. It does not change that system. It magnifies the risks.

Developments since the 2016 election make the real dangers more apparent than ever.  Most recently the risks of cyber vulnerability from foreign, domestic, and other actors. After the 2016 election, citizens and a candidate attempted to obtain recounts in three closely contested states, (Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania). Apparent, is a flawed system with errors and uncertainty, ultimately unable to prove accuracy and integrity, with strong official resistance to audits and recounts.

Six major concerns with the Compact include:

  1. The 12th Amendment and the Electoral Count Act govern declaring the President. They have been called a “Ticking Time Bomb” because of strict, yet, ambiguous rules, causing problems seen in 1876 and 2000. The Compact would exacerbate that risky system. (see page 6)
  2. There is no official national popular vote number compiled in time, such that it could be used to officially and accurately determine the winner in any close election. (see page 3)
  3. Even if there were such a number, it would aggravate the flaws in the system. The Electoral College limits the risks and damage to a few swing states. With the National Popular Vote Compact, errors, voter suppression, and fraud in all states would count against the national totals. (see page 5)
  4. There is no national audit or recount available for close elections, to establish an accurate popular vote number.  (see page 4)
  5. With the Compact there is every reason to believe that any close election would be decided by partisian action of the Congress or the Supreme Court, as in Gore v. Bush.  (see page 6)
  6. This Compact will not make every voter equal.

Recently proponents of the Compact have highlighted the fact that the “U.S. Presidential election is the only U.S. election not decided by popular vote.” 

Note that it is also the only U.S. election decided by a voting system that is not uniform in voting methods and franchise, and with votes not subject to uniform adjudication and totaling.” With the Compact, it would be the only such election in the World.

I urge you to consider the risks and chaos made possible if Connecticut were to endorse the National Popular Vote Compact, including reading the attached editorials and detailed arguments.

Thank You

As I have said many times, most of the democrats (and my friends) who support the Compact are wrong.  And most of the Republicans opposed, are opposed for the wrong reason:

I would support a national popular vote amendment to the U.S. Constitution, if and only if, it provided for a uniform franchise, required sufficient voting systems, sufficient audits and recounts nationwide.   And sufficient laws that were enforceable and enforced to provide a trustworthy and trusted national popular vote number. Those ifs are a large leap for our democracy, yet are reasonable, economical, realistic requirements to achieve trustworthy democracy,

Unlike the National “Experts” that fly in each year to testify, I provide complete testimony with facts that they have not successfully disputed since 2007. The experts got about 30min, 90min, and 105min of testimony and questions.  I got 3min. I would put my credentials up against any of them. Here is all the testimony <here>

Let me add that there were at least three fact free arguments and statements today:

  • Chair Sen McLachlan early on incorrectly stated that I was not present – I was signed up as con, as number 7 on the public list.  As Mark Twain would have said, “The report of my demise was premature”. Some of the media picked up on and reported his statement.
  • Rep Matt Lesser incorrectly stated that there was no election fraud.  This is a usual proponent tactic. There is negligible votER fraud, but plenty of votING fraud, including in Connecticut. <see this recent summary>
  • After I testified, Chris Pearson, one of those national “experts”, testified that my contention that “There is no official national popular vote number compiled in time, such that it could be used to officially and accurately determine the winner in any close election.”, was incorrect. He made claims that continue to be refuted by the law, precedent, and practices as articulate for several years on page 3 of my testimony. Consider that there is a reason that none of the leaders from NPV have ever dared join me at any of the three well-publicized debates on the issue.
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