Trent England | June 3, 2019
What is National Popular Vote?
In the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, some Al Gore supporters determined to do away with the Electoral College. Amending the Constitution is hard—rightly so. So these disappointed Gore supporters sought another way, an interstate compact that would leave the constitutional system in place, but hijack it to get a different result. They called their plan, and the organization they created to push it, National Popular Vote.
The interstate compact, adopted by states through their legislative processes, claims to bind those states to ignore the results of their own voters in presidential elections. Instead, these states would appoint Electors for the candidate believed to have won the most votes nationwide. This is an “end run,” according to NPV’s founder, around the Electoral College and the constitutional amendment process. It would leave the Electoral College structure in place, but render the constitutional system meaningless.
NPV has a ‘trigger”—it only takes effect if passed by states with a total of 270 electoral votes, which would then control the election outcome without regard to what any other state does. After launching in 2006, NPV won Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, and Hawaii over the next two years. From 2009 through 2018, NPV added seven states and the District of Columbia. Two of those—California and New York—brought significant numbers of electoral votes. The 2018 elections shifted politics to the left in a number of states, allowing NPV to win Colorado, Delaware, and New Mexico (with bills pending in Maine, Nevada and Oregon when this was written). Only blue states have adopted NPV, with support coming overwhelmingly from Democrats.
Save Our States exists to defend the Electoral College against schemes like NPV, as well as more straightforward constitutional amendments that would eliminate the Electoral College. Any of these proposals would increase the risks of regionalism, small-plurality winners, and spoiler candidates, while removing important protections against election fraud. The Electoral College has served our country well, and we should preserve it.
David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow
Trent England is the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, where he previously served as executive vice president. He is also the founder and executive director of Save Our States, which educates Americans about the importance of the Electoral College. England is a producer of the feature-length documentary “Safeguard: An Electoral College Story.” He has appeared three times on Fox & Friends and is a frequent guest on media programs from coast to coast. He is the author of Why We Must Defend the Electoral College and a contributor to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Times, Hillsdale College's Imprimis speech digest, and other publications. Trent formerly hosted morning drive-time radio in Oklahoma City and has filled for various radio hosts including Ben Shapiro. A former legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, he holds a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.