April 2020 – Updates from the Chair
First and foremost, I hope that you all are well, healthy, and staying at home. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot that can be done right now to get ready for the coming fall and winter. As you will read below, given the challenges of COVID-19, a great deal more has been happening than we might have expected.
This month’s NPV Update focuses on:
*What is happening nationally
*Two recently published books about NPV
*Webinars on NPV being offered by NPV, Inc.
*A profile of Suzanne Low, NPV Local Chair for Collier County
*NPV Palm Beach welcomes new NPV members
*NPV Myth #2
Kathleen Crampton, Chair
Floridians for National Popular Vote
Status of NPV in Virginia
Virginia: The Chair of the Virginia Senate Committee has promised that NPV bill HB 177, which was deferred this past session, would reappear on the Committee’s docket during the “lame duck” session this November or December. Floridians for NPV will again be asked to staff phone banks and make calls to registered Virginia voters asking them to contact their Senators encouraging them to support the passage of NPV.
Status of NPV in Colorado
The “Yes on National Popular Vote” group in Colorado is moving ahead in preparation for the election in November. Although Colorado passed an NPV bill last spring, a group of conservatives, hoping to overturn that decision, gathered and filed enough signatures to get the issue on the 2020 ballot. The question on the ballot will ask voters if they want to elect the President by Popular Vote or not. In preparation, NPV Colorado in conjunction with the LWV and other organizations is holding “virtual” press conferences and webinars to educate local leaders and influencers so they can spread the word regarding the ballot question.
Educating the public is not easy. Many citizens know little about the Electoral College or what the “winner take all” rule means. To help underwrite the expenses of these virtual conferences, “Yes on Popular Vote” is raising funds. If you can help them, even with a small donation, please follow this link, www.yesonnationalpopularvote.com.
Join Webinars with Jesse Wegman and Michael Steele
National Popular Vote, Inc. has arranged for webinars with these two very knowledgeable and engaging speakers.
Jesse Wegman Webinar:
Thursday, April 23 at 3 PM EDT
Jesse Wegman is a member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times and has been studying the problems inherent in the Electoral College for many years.
His recently published book, Let the People Pick the President, is reviewed below.
Wegman has long been a critic of the Electoral College and has written several New York Times editorials that have supported National Popular Vote.
Michael Steele Webinar:
Friday, May 1 at 2 PM EDT
Even though Michael Steele was the President of the National Republican Party, he has long been a supporter of NPV and has begun to work with NPV as a national spokesperson. He believes that having the President elected by popular vote is good for democracy and not just good for one party or the other. Most recently Mr. Steele published an article in The Hill which documents how swing states get more attention from Presidential Candidates (article link below).
An engaging speaker, Mr. Steele will present the rationale for NPV and then will take questions from the audience.
Click here to connect to Steele article: Would a National Popular Vote remove some politics from presidential decision making?
Two New Books on NPV and the Electoral College Just Published:
Let the People Pick the President by Jesse Wegman, who is a member of the New York Times Editorial Board. His “…. urgent and ultimately irrefutable call to action is the most readable and fully informed explanation of how the Electoral College is wrecking America’s great experiment in government of, by, and for the people. It’s not too late to rescue our democracy from destruction. Wegman makes a compelling case that we must act now – and explains what to do.” Laurence Tribe, Professor, Harvard Law School.
Presidential Elections and Majority Rule by Edward Foley is a, “powerful, original account of the purpose of the Electoral College and will be the most important guide to anyone trying to understand and preserve whatever genius there was in this odd institution. It offers critical and urgent advice to anyone trying to reform it now.” Lawrence Lessig, Professor, Harvard Law School.
Profile of Suzanne Low, NPV Collier County Local Leader
“It grabbed hold of my attention,” explains Suzanne Low when asked how she became involved in the National Popular Vote movement. Retired from a distinguished career as a lawyer, financial planner, and teacher, Suzanne joined the board of the Collier County League of Women Voters and was an active member of the League’s Government Committee. Through this service, she learned about the National Popular Vote, and volunteered to lead the National Popular Vote effort in Collier County.
Suzanne’s parents fled from Europe to America to escape Nazi persecution. Consequently, Suzanne regards voting not just as a right or a privilege, but an obligation. “It’s not fair that so many voters in America feel their votes for President don’t count. It’s the one position that is supposed to represent all of us. When I saw that the NPV law had passed 15 states, representing more than 72% of the votes needed to put it into effect, I knew that it was not just pie in the sky, it’s a pragmatic method to reform an archaic system of choosing our President,” she says. She feels she has been able to apply her legal, teaching and public speaking experiences to help others understand the somewhat complex but logical ideas behind NPV.
She stresses that the NPV is not just for liberals. Many prominent conservatives have also joined the movement. The NPV is fair and inherently non-partisan. “Why should my vote be different depending on where I live?” she asks. An inveterate problem solver, Suzanne has assembled and trained a local group that is part of the statewide effort to encourage the Florida Legislature to adopt the National Popular Vote by 2024.
Suzanne joined the firm Lassus Wherley in 1997 as a Certified Financial Planner and served as the firm’s Director of Florida Operations, retiring in 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, with distinction, from the University of Wisconsin in 1970, a Master’s Degree from Indiana University in 1973, and her law degree from Rutgers University School of Law in 1981. She chaired the New Jersey Supreme Court District X Ethics Committee, later serving as Special Master of the Committee. She also sat on the New Jersey Supreme Court Ethics Financial Committee.
Anyone interested in more information, or to join the Collier League’s NPV team can contact Suzanne at email@example.com.
NPV Palm Beach Workshop
On March 7, 2020, the LWV of Palm Beach County held a workshop for new members on the facts about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and the Electoral College.
Attending were (left to right) Lee Alcott, Cynthia Archbold (NPV Issue chair), Ina Trueheart, Dina Meyer, John Boden, and Varisa Lall Dass.
Because there seem to be a lot of myths about NPV, each edition of this NPV Update will include a section focusing on one of these many misconceptions. These explanations have been adapted from the National Popular Vote Website.
Myth #2: The small states would be disadvantaged by a national popular vote.
The small states (the 13 states with only three or four electoral votes) are the most disadvantaged and ignored group of states under the current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes. The reason is that political power in presidential elections comes from being a closely divided battleground state, and all but one (New Hampshire) of the small states are noncompetitive states in presidential elections.
The small states are not ignored because of their low population, but because they are not closely divided battleground states. The 12 small non-battleground states have about the same population (12 million) as the closely divided battleground state of Ohio. The 12 small states have 40 electoral votes more than twice Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. However, Ohio received 73 of 253 post-convention campaign events in 2012, while the 12 small, non-battleground states received none.
The current state-by-state winner-take-all system shifts power from voters in the small and medium-sized states to voters in a handful of big states that happen to be closely divided battleground states in presidential elections.
The fact that the small states are disadvantaged by the current state-by-state winner-take-all system has long been recognized by prominent officials from those states. In 1966, Delaware led a group of 12 predominantly small states in suing New York (then a closely divided battleground state) in the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to get state winner-take-all statutes declared unconstitutional.
Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system, a vote for President in Wyoming is equal to a vote in California. Both are politically irrelevant.