Issues with NPV vs. a strategy of overwhelm

The debate over the National Popular Vote reminds us of the debate about the pesticide DDT so many years ago. DDT has many benefits to help farmers feed the world, some perhaps overblown, but there was a problem. DDT could kill people and definitely animals, endangering the American Eagle, the very symbol of our nation.

Around this time in the presidential election cycle we see a variety of articles touting benefits of the National Popular Vote Agreement vs. the Electoral College for determining the president. One of the latest is a piece in the Stamford Patch pointing to Rep Fox’s support of the Agreement, largely quoting Ryan O’Donnell, a lobbyist for NationalPopularVote.org (NPV.org): Should We Change the Way We Elect? State Representative for Stamford Gerald Fox III weighs in on the National Popular Vote movement <read>

National Popular Vote‘s strategy seems to be to overwhelm with facts and arguments, relevant, irrelevant, and questionable. If you are patient, you will see Rep Fox’s picture popup as an endorser on their home page. If you are really patient you can read there 894 page version of what their explanation page calls a 630 page book. While many in our Connecticut Legislature are correctly concerned with highly financed legislation endorsed by ALEC, we note that two of the endorsers on the forward of the book tout their association with ALEC: Laura Braud, Minnesota Public Sector Chair, and Ray Haynes, Past National Chair. Our understanding is that NPV.org and SupportPopularVote.com are largely funded by two other book endorsers, B. Thomas Golisano and John R. Koza.

I suggest you hold the book for later and read the Patch article along with the comments to get a taste of their arguments, relevant, irrelevant, and questionable and their apparent strategy of overwhelm. Often when one of these articles appears, I post a comment to articulate what they are not telling you, the risk of the National Popular Vote Agreement. Much like DDT the issue is not the touted benefits, even if overblown. The issue is the potential harmful consequences. Here is what I could fit into the comment limit:

What often appears simple is not. The Compact being proposed would get around the requirement for a constitutional amendment. It would cobble the popular vote onto a system designed for the Electoral College.

While I understand the good arguments for the national popular vote and would support it, except there are some extreme risks to the Compact which attempts to force fit it onto our inaccurate state by state voting system.

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. (The unaudited Certificate of Ascertainments are available only after electors must be chosen and vote)

There is no national recount available for close elections to establish an accurate number. Only in some individual states with close numbers in those states would there ever be a recount.

Currently the Electoral College limits the damage to states with close votes. With the national popular  vote errors, voter suppression, and fraud in all states would count against the national totals.

For example: The inaccuracies in Bridgeport in 2010 did not change the winner here in the Governors race and would not have been enough to change the Electoral College, but would have counted against a popular vote.

I usually limit myself to one comment per article. Not so with NPV.org supporters. Currently there are 32 comments, with 27 of them by a single NPV supporter, with the pseudonym ‘toto’. Like the 880 page book, ‘toto’s strategy seems to be an attempt to overwhelm with volume, some irrelevant facts, and distortions. One of the other commenters, DJ McAneny asked a good question, so I responded:

@DJ,

I would be in favor of a National Popular Vote, but with several prerequisites. At a general level, stronger election integrity laws, national uniformity, enforceable and enforced laws in place.

Stronger laws would include voter created paper ballots, strong post-election audits, ballot security, and national recounts. There would need to be an equal franchise from state to state, uniform early voting, registration, and absentee voting provisions. All these things in a way that we could trust enforcement, integrity, and accuracy. Finally it would take a great improvement/revision of the 12th Amendment and the Electoral Count Act, which cause problems and limit integrity of the selection of electors that we have seen in 1876 and 2000.

Perhaps I should say more on such articles and adopt a strategy of articulating the flaws in ‘toto’s voluminous arguments, yet I believe the sheer volume speaks louder than than anything, other than the obvious fact that ‘toto’ and his or her frequent alter ego ‘mvymvy’ are not willing to sign their comments. They know who they are, everyone knows who I am. I stand by my comments.

PS: For those interested in a more detailed version of the risks of the National Popular Vote Agreement, review my slides from a presentation as part of a panel on the Agreement, delivered this spring at the Election Verification Network annual conference, Verification and Integrity Concerns with the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote an Interstate Compact <Slides>

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