Stepping Stones: Why we need the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

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In an age of partisanship and polarization, constitutional ratification of a new system to replace the antiquated as the Electoral College requires major administrative hurdles, including questions such as to determine how the popular vote would be taken and how to make sure that big cities did not hold all the power. One piece of legislation that holds potential is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. A woman wears a mask message as she waits in line to vote early at the Loop Super Site in downtown Chicago, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. Photo courtesy of Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo.

The electoral college came forth from seeds of elitism. Alexander Hamilton, the founding father who generated the ingenious idea, did so because he did not trust the United States’ citizens. Instead, he wanted people he believed were “most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations” to elect the Commander in Chief. He did not think that the American people were equipped with the intellectual skills necessary to choose a leader, at least at that time. And though it wasn’t so plainly worded, the elitism woven into these thoughts are vividly clear.  

We do not live in Hamilton’s world any longer. The majority of the United States people are educated and have at least a high school diploma. And with the advent of the Internet and social media, it is impossible to remain completely untouched by the election and its candidates. And even without this high school education, it can be argued that the masses that compose the United States are “likely to possess the information and discernment” needed to choose the individual who will lead them. In essence, the only “information” one truly needs is within them; they know who they believe will be the better leader. It is hard to believe that the Electoral College uses anything different. Worse, the fact that the few votes, the Electoral College, can override the many voices is undemocratic. With this knowledge in mind, it becomes lucid; the Electoral College is past obsolete. So why has it not been removed?  

A roll of “I Voted!” stickers are shown, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department in Doral, Fla. The states signed onto the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact have promised their Electoral College votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. This would entail that the United States President would be directly placed there by the American people. Photo courtesy of Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo.

The answer comes back to the format of the U.S. Constitution and the fact that to reverse the Electoral College correctly, we would need an amendment; an amendment that could only be ratified if it had two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate and three-fourths of the states on its side. In an age of partisanship and polarization, that kind of support, even for a system as undemocratic and antiquated as the Electoral College, can seem daunting. Major administrative hurdles would need to be crossed to determine how the popular vote would be taken and how to make sure that big cities did not hold all the power. And despite its flagrance, some still support the Electoral College and its elitist roots. The hope to override this system, however, is not lost. There is something that could aid in overriding this system: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.  

The states signed onto the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact have promised their Electoral College votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. This would entail that the United States President would be directly placed there by the American people. Though the winner takes all system persists, the winner, in this case, is chosen by the people and not a group of people elected by elected officials. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, however, does not solve the problem of ‘preferential campaigning.’ More attention will still be given to ‘swing states’ as those are the states whose results cannot always be determined and, therefore, can determine an election. However, it will return the United States people a right that they should and need to be given: the right to vote for their leader.  

Currently, only 15 states have joined the Compact; this is primarily because the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact does not come without faults. The votes are given to the candidate who wins the national popular vote and not to the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote. This fact could indeed invite trouble in the form of legal challenges from candidates or voting groups. However, it is essential to note that the people’s votes within that state are considered in the national popular vote. And the fact remains that the Electoral College is an unhealthy system that diverges from democratic ideals. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will serve as a stepping stone to rid the U.S. of this system and, as such, must be seriously considered in a majority of states.  

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