Courant Op-Ed: Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned of national popular vote risks

Courant Op-Ed by Chris DeSanctis: NO: Electoral College Votes Should Represent State Voters’ Choice <read>

The op-ed quotes the late New York Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

With a national vote differential of only 500,000 (less than a 0.5 percent) between the two candidates, a national popular vote Electoral College compact would have caused Florida’s problems to appear minor in comparison. Both campaigns would have contested votes state by state, precinct by precinct, looking for a few thousand here and a few thousand there. That struggle would have taken place across America, rather than just in Florida.

The late Democratic senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once remarked about such a circumstance under a national popular vote agreement: “There would be genuine pressures to fraud and abuse. It would be an election no one understood until the next day or the day after, with recounts that go on forever, and in any event, with no conclusion, and a runoff to come. The drama, the dignity, the decisiveness and finality of the American political system are drained away in an endless sequence of contests, disputed outcomes and more contests to resolve outcomes already disputed. That is how legitimacy is lost.” Close presidential races are managed more effectively with the Electoral College.

We have learned more about voting integrity since the time of Senator Moynihan. It would be even worse than he imagined. There would and could be no recount.

Unlike the the op-ed writer, I am theoretically in favor of one person, one vote and the popular election of the President. However, given the current unequal state by state franchise and voting arrangements, votes are not equal and cannot be made so by the Compact or a simple Constitutional amendment.

As a computer scientist and voting integrity activist I find there are extreme risks in the National Popular Vote Compact’s mismatch with our existing state by state voting system. The Compact would aggravate an already weak electoral accounting system.

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.

Even if there were such a number, it would aggravate the flaws in the system. The Electoral College limits the risk and the damage to a few swing states in each election. With a national popular vote, errors, voter suppression, and fraud in all states would count against the national totals.

There is no national recount available for close elections, to establish an accurate number. Only in some individual states, if close numbers happened to occur in those states, would there be even a fraction of a national recount.

With the Compact there is every reason to believe that any close election would be decided the Congress or the Supreme Court – the same Court that ruled in Gore v. Bush, that not having a uniform recount law in Florida was grounds to stop the recount to avoid harm to the apparent winner. Citizens and candidates can be expected to bring court challenges of Governors and Secretaries of State for relying on and providing inaccurate results in awarding Electoral College votes.

Reference  testimony on the National Popular Vote vs. the Electoral College


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