How to Break the National Popular Vote

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Should the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact get 270 electoral college votes and go into effect, it would be fairly simple to break it, in various ways.

Federal law requires that the electors in each state meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December. Federal law does not require that every state make their votes publically available. One or more states could withhold their vote totals (depending on state law, of course, which can be changed) until the following Tuesday, after the electors of all states were required to vote.

This makes it so that the NPV member states (as written in Washington state law) cannot determine the number of votes for each presidential slate in each state of the United States and in the District of Columbia in which
votes have been cast in a statewide popular election,
and therefore cannot add such votes together to produce a "national popular vote total for each presidential slate, and therefore cannot designate the presidential slate with the largest national popular vote total as the "national popular vote winner," and therefore cannot allocate their delegates based on any national popular vote.*

This could be done simply to fight against the NPV. But it could also be exploited for more nefarious purposes.

As my nefariously minded coworker points out: consider if a state voted for a Democratic candidate, but the government of the state is controlled by Republicans. It's a large enough state given the closeness of the election that their state would hand the "popular vote" to the Democratic candidate; but without their state's vote, the "popular vote" and electoral college vote would go to their favored Republican candidate.

So the state withholds their statewide popular vote totals, giving the victory to the Republican.


Have I mentioned how "modifying" the Constitution without going through the amendments process is a bad idea? It is. The states all need to be together on something like this, enforced through federal power. The stakes are too high.

* Now, one could argue that the secretaries of state, under the compact, are empowered to work around this -- perhaps by excluding states that don't report, or even making educated guesses -- but if so, then that's extremely dangerous, as the secretary of state would also be effectively empowered to give his state's electoral votes to any candidate he chooses.

That is, if the secretary of state can leave out one or more states because they don't have any votes made public, for example, why not leave out other states because he thinks they didn't have a proper "statewide popular election"?

"Sorry Florida, your election was too flawed, I don't think it counts as a statewide popular vote, so I won't be including it."

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on April 30, 2009 12:27 PM.

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