by Ken Dammand
Polls show that well over two thirds of US citizens would prefer a national popular vote for President. And, believe it or not, there is a very simple way to accomplish this goal without amending the U.S. Constitution. The movement is called the National Popular Vote . But, true to form, cynical and well-funded anti-democratic forces are now exploiting the public’s desire for a popular vote to promote a deceptively named alternative they call the “Make Every Vote Count” Initiative. This initiative does not make every vote count. And if implemented in specific states only, it will literally guarantee the Presidency to one Party for the foreseeable future. Read on to understand this cynical ploy and the amazingly simple and effective alternative that would truly create a national popular vote for the presidency.
It makes me angry to know that the results of the presidential election are decided before my vote is even counted. It also bothers me that it is possible for the looser of the popular vote to become the president of the United States. And, in fact, this has happened four times in our history. A national popular vote would eliminate both problems.
National Popular Vote’s proposed solution is simply to form a consortium of states that will each agree to give all of their Electoral College votes to the candidate that wins the national popular vote. Every vote in the country would, in fact, have to be counted before any of the Electoral College votes from those states would be decided. When the number of states making this agreement represents a total of 270 electoral votes, winning the presidency will require winning the national popular vote. It’s that simple. No longer will the winner of the presidency be declared before the polls close in Washington, Oregon, and California. No longer will 9 battle ground states determine the presidency regardless of what happens in the other 41 states!
And here is the really great news: Eleven states, representing 165 Electoral College votes have already entered this compact. Better still, Washington State is one of them! We joined this group in May of 2009!
I wish I could end on that great note. But people who are more interested in political power than the proper function of democracy are contriving to create a system that will be even worse than the current statewide “winner take all” system. They propose breaking SOME of the states down to the Congressional District level and allocating those states’ Electoral College votes on a winner take all basis within each Congressional district. This might seem appealing to voters in states that routinely cast all of their electoral votes for a party the voter does not favor. But, in fact, it only moves the winner take all disenfranchisement of minority party supporters down a notch. The problem with this approach is that, if it is adopted only in states that lean reliably toward one of the two major parties, the other party will be virtually guaranteed the presidency from that point on.
Don’t be fooled by Initiative I-1380. The real goal of the “Make Every Vote Count” initiative is to guarantee the presidency to one party. It will not make every vote count. It will still be possible for the loser of the popular vote to win the Presidency. And most of the time, the presidency will still be decided before polls on the West coast are closed.
Moreover, the list of states in which this program is promoted will be very revealing of the ethics and dedication to democracy of one or another of the two parties. Stay tuned. We’ll be keeping an eye on this issue.