1117=620 and other inaccuracies of NationalPopularVote.org

This spring marked the fourth edition of Every Vote Equal, a large and expanding essay apparently aimed at convincing readers and book-lifters that the weight of evidence is on the side of passing the National Popular Vote Agreement/Compact.

Although Every Vote Equal is touted as a 630 page book, a detail apparently unchanged from the original version, the fourth edition is now an increasingly redundant 1117 pages. Unfortunately, no matter to what lengths the authors go, it can never be enough to successfully defy logic and informed common sense. On the other hand I have to appreciate their work to use a small portion of that space in an effort to discredit yours truly.

I have yet to read the forth version, as reading every page of the third version was a tough enough slog. I will stick with the movie going forward. But one of the authors had promised that my myths about the Compact would be refuted in this version. So I hunted and found only one reference, taking a half a page or so, starting on page 582. It claimed to refute a statement in an old blog post:

In an article entitled “Lawmakers Seek to Change Presidential Elections to Make Them More Risky, Reduce Confidence,” Luther Weeks of Connecticut says:

“There is no official national popular vote number complied and certified nationally that can be used to officially and accurately determine the winner in any reasonably close election.” [Emphasis added(by Every Vote Equal)]

Of course, the vote counts recorded on the states’ Certificates of Ascertainment are used under the current system to award electoral votes. Moreover, these vote counts are considered “official” enough and “accurate” enough to elect the President of the United States under the current system.

In particular, the 537-vote lead (out of 5,963,110 votes) recorded on Florida’s Certificate of Ascertainment in 2000 was considered “official” enough and “accurate” enough to elect a President. One wonders why Weeks thinks that these state-produced Certificates of Ascertainment (and the legal process behind the “final determinations” reported in these certificates) would suddenly become “more risky” if used to elect a President under the National Popular Vote compact. Why would they suddenly “reduce confidence?”

Superficially, it sounds like they have done the job. But they have not. Let me point out a couple of things they missed or overlooked.

  • I was not saying that their was not a “popular vote number complied and certified nationally”. I am of course, aware of the Certificates of Ascertainment.
  • I was implying it is not true that the Certificates “can be used to officially and accurately determine the winner”. I am sticking by that.
  • I also did not say that “Certificates of Ascertainment are used under the current system to award electoral votes.” I said they could not be used under the Compact to determine the winner.

Several times after my original statement was made, I refuted their contention in blog debates. I also changed what I was saying to make by contention clearer by adding two words, “in time”. For instance, here is my testimony to the Connecticut Legislature in 2011 and again in this year in 2013.  I said pretty much the same thing both times:

Fact or Myth?

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.

According to NationalPopularVote.org:

20.1    MYTH: There is no official count of the national popular vote.

It is sometimes asserted that there is no official national vote count for President and, therefore, the National Popular Vote bill would be impossible to implement. Contrary to this assertion, existing federal law (section 6 of Title 3 of the United States Code) requires that an official count of the popular vote from each state be certified and sent to various federal officials in the form of a “certificate of ascertainment…

Reality:

Yes: There is an official, unaudited, national popular vote number which can be determined by examining data posted by the federal government at: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college

Reality: The number is not compiled and available in time, such that states could use the number to determine, under the Compact, how to allocate their electoral votes. Looking at the details for 2008,
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/state_responsibilities.html#vote2
We find:

  • States must prepare a Certificate of Ascertainment listing electors and the votes that they received: “The original Certificate and two certified copies (or duplicate originals) should be sent to the Archivist as soon as possible after the November 4 election results are finalized. At the very latest, they must be received by the electors on the statutory deadline of December 15, 2008 and submitted to the Archivist no later than December 16, 2008.
  • “On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December (December 15, 2008), the electors meet in their respective States. Federal law does not permit the States to choose an alternate date for the meeting of electors – it must be held on December 15, 2008 At this meeting, the electors cast their votes for President and Vice President.”
  • Since states are not required to submit electors and their official unaudited vote totals to the Archivist until December 16th, the national popular vote number obviouisly could not be guaranteed to be available on December 15th.  And since the Certificate cannot be created until after the electors of a state have voted, the final official unaudited national popular number could not be official until all states electors have already voted. But wait…
  • Any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of electors must be decided under State law at least six days prior to the meeting of the electors.”
  • So, each state must actually appoint its electors six (6) days before they must meet and vote which is seven (7) days before each state is required to send the state’s official unaudited popular vote numbers to Washington. But wait…
  • “The statutory deadline for the designated Federal and State officials to receive the electoral votes is December 24, 2008. Because of the very short time between the meetings of the electors in the States on December 15 and the December 24 statutory deadline, followed closely by the counting of electoral votes in Congress on January 6, 2009, it is imperative that the Certificates be mailed as soon as possible.”
  • So, the real deadline for each state’s popular vote number arriving in Washington, would be nine (9) days after the vote for electors, and fifteen (15) days after electors have to be deterimed. Presumably some time is also needed to accurately post that information so that the official, unaudited numbers would be available for state officials to review.

Let me suggest reading the other myths and arguments in the 2013 testimony for more of what Every Vote Equal chose not to even attempt to discredit.

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