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    National Popular Vote is a return to politics of smoke-filled back rooms

    The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is not a plan to make presidential elections more democratic. It’s a plot that would disenfranchise voters at the state level.

    Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, representing 195 Electoral College votes. The compact would take effect when states representing 270 electoral votes — enough to elect a president — have signed on.

    Michigan lawmakers are considering a bill to join an elite group that includes California, Illinois, Rhode Island and other deep-blue states. The Great Lakes State’s 15 electoral votes would bring the total to 210, just 60 away from the magic number.

    Have proponents of this compact thought it through? Picture this: It’s 2028, the National Popular Vote Compact is live, and President Ron DeSantis is running for reelection against Democratic nominee Gretchen Whitmer.

    Whitmer carries Michigan, but DeSantis wins the national popular vote. Michigan’s 15 electoral votes go to DeSantis — as do all 270 votes of National Popular Vote states. DeSantis wins re-election in a landslide.

    Right now, with the exception of Nebraska and Maine, the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in a state wins that state’s electoral votes. This ensures that a person’s vote isn’t drowned out by the masses. It protects the individual interests of each state by ensuring that the state has a voice in choosing the president. Candidates are also more motivated to spend time campaigning in states that might not be the most populous.

    In the upside-down world envisioned by the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, states would ignore the wishes of their residents in favor of how the rest of the country voted. A presidential candidate can lose a state but win its electoral votes, by virtue of wining big in other states.

    This isn’t some far-fetched idea. The plan has been submitted in every state. 

    In Michigan, a strangely bipartisan cast of characters has stepped up as the bill’s pitchmen, including Saul Anuzis and Mark Brewer, former chairs of the Michigan Republican and Michigan Democratic parties, respectively. Their pitch for the National Popular Vote doesn’t include what’s in the fine print.

    You may not like it when 538 electors choose the president on certified results. But this potentially gives an abundance of authority to a smaller group of people: Secretaries of state. They could end up having the final say in who gets their states’ votes based on their interpretation of the “national popular vote.” No longer would it matter who carried what state; all 270 states in the compact would vote as a bloc.

    A candidate would not even need a majority to win. The winner of the electoral votes under the National Popular Vote Compact needs only a plurality. In a world where six people run for president, a candidate who received 25 percent of the overall vote could be the winner. This allows for potential upsets with attempts to game the system in order to siphon off votes.

    Brewer and Anuzis repeat a favorite talking point: The compact “would make all 50 states battleground states.” Does that seem likely? Will candidates fly out to Montana to wrest votes one by one — which they don’t even do now, in a winner-take-all system? Or will they focus on getting out the votes in big cities? Widening the margin of victory in winning areas would be the new game. The focus would shift from campaigning to ballot harvesting.

    National Popular Vote wouldn’t result in 50 battleground states but zero. Winning the national tally by a single vote would guarantee a bloc of 270 votes.

    As the Michigan House Fiscal Agency found in its study of National Popular Vote, the state vote count would matter only in the event of a tie in the popular vote. That’s all but a statistical impossibility. “In the event of a tie of the National Popular Vote winner, the governor would certify the slate of whichever candidate received the most votes in Michigan,” the nonpartisan agency wrote.

    In the name of “one person, one vote,” state-level votes would be reduced from the deciding factor to a mere tiebreaker. America is a diverse nation made up of 50 different states, each with their individual interests, perspectives and values. They each deserve a voice that can’t be drowned out by the masses.

    How far along is the National Popular Vote plan in your state?

    James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential, the news outlet of Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

    Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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