Letter to the editor from Joanna Swomley, April 29, 2018
To add to the recent letters* on the NPV Compact, it is important to note a key fact in any discussion.
The Electoral College came into existence as a safety brake on a great democratic experiment.
The founders were afraid that the masses could not necessarily be trusted to protect against tyranny. Additionally, at the time there were structural impediments to electing a president on a national level that no longer exist today. Most scholars and indeed most people now understand and believe that the reasons for the Electoral College have ceased to exist.
However, whether one likes the College or not, the reality is that the NPV Compact does no violence to the College. Rather the NPV Compact works within the current structure: Electors agree to cast their votes for the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide — what our country refers to as the popular vote but which all other countries (and most normal people) would call simply “the vote.”
If the NPV Compact were passed by states with 270 electoral votes, every vote cast in the presidential election would be counted and actually matter. As it stands now, that is not the case. Millions are effectively disenfranchised. In Connecticut, Republicans may as well have stayed home in the last election. The electors cast all of their votes for Hillary Clinton because she received the most votes. In Texas, Democrats may as well have stayed home. Is this really how we want the elect the President?
One final thought: Imagine if you were asked to go to Country X and certify the presidential election there. You were told that every citizen would get a vote. You watched that vote take place without incident. Then you were told by a few people that the “real” vote would be cast by a different set of people. That result yielded a different president. Would you certify the election of that different president as free and fair? I think not.