Princeton Election Consortium

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Making Every Vote Count: Election reform and the National Popular Vote Compact

October 7th, 2017, 11:02am by Sam Wang


This morning I was on CNN (watch it here) with Mike Smerconish to talk about replacing the Electoral College with a national popular vote. There’s a practical strategy for doing so: state-level legislation, in the form of the National Popular Vote Compact.

Some of the reasons for implementing a national popular vote may surprise you. One big reason is security. Today’s Electoral College opens a giant security hole. Hackers can target as few as five states to swing an election.

Another reason has to do with the fact that many communities are not represented in the swing states. To name a few: Mormons, Southern Baptists, and Americans of Puerto Rican descent all get left in the cold. Also, despite what you may believe, small states are mostly left out of influence.

Read more at Making Every Vote Count. Washington-area people, the national rollout occurs this Thursday morning at the National Press Club.

Tags: President · U.S. Institutions

6 Comments so far ↓

  • Greg Hullender

    If the popular vote were used as the basis for the election, then voter fraud in a single state could tip the result.

    Any state where one party has massive majorities could likely fudge their national tallies without detection, since the minority party often fails to send observers to precincts it knows it can’t win. Today they have no incentive to further inflate winning results, since they can’t do more than win their state. But if we used the popular vote for the presidential election, then we’d be vulnerable to fraud in any precinct in any state.

    Something needs to be done about that risk first.

    • Sam Wang

      A similar type of problem already exists, in the form of hacking close swing states. This current risk, which is tremendous, was a major point in my CNN appearance.

    • LondonYoung

      Hacking close swing states is a big danger right now. But, almost by definition, those states are not saturated with one party control.

      However, I doubt Maryland and Kansas want to trust each other’s vote tabulations.

      The compact should be extended to create a national authority for overseeing voting technology and only those states that opt in get their votes counted. The Caltech/MIT voting project has a lot of good ideas that have gone nowhere.

      My inclusion of this link can be considered an endorsement:
      https://vote.caltech.edu/

  • Susan Brickey

    If the Electoral College were proportional rather than winner take all, would that alleviate the discrepancy and be easier to implement rather than a Constitutional Amendment? Since Maine and Nebraska already have this system, I’m assuming it’s already legal.

    • Sam Wang

      The National Popular Vote Compact is not a Constitutional amendment – it is passed at a state-by-state level until 270 electoral votes are reached. States may choose electors as they see fit.

    • Ryan Pearman

      No, it would make it substantially worse. See gerrymandering all over this site, since it’s based on winner-take all in congressional districts.

      It would essentially bake in a current 3-4% advantage for the current Rs, but is open to other similar abuses from any party clever enough to do it.

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