September 2020 – Updates from the Chair

Dear Florida NPV Friends:

With the Presidential election in full swing, John Koza, who first developed the concept of National Popular Vote, has started tracking the impact of the “Winner Take All” bills on the activities of this year’s two major candidates, Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Below you will find his very insightful article on what immediate impact of these bills, passed by states in the mid 1800’s, has on where today’s candidates are spending their time and resources in 2020. It suggests that, once again, a small percentage of the US voting population is likely to decide who our next President will be, essentially disenfranchising most voters. Read the Koza article, which we’ve included below.
Meanwhile, we continue our support of our colleagues at Coloradans for NPV who received a huge boost when The Denver Post recently endorsed “Yes on NPV – Ballot # 113”.

Finally, our Myth #5: The current system ensures that presidential candidates reach out to all states. This discussion allows you to compare the location of campaign events in 2020 with those in 2016. (With thanks to NPV,Inc. for response.)

Kathleen Crampton, Chair
Floridians for National Popular Vote

Only a Few States Will Decide the Presidency
by John Koza, Chair, National Popular Vote

The map shows where the presidential candidates campaigned in the first week since the conventions.

The reason why voters in only a small handful of states matter is that almost all states award all of their electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes inside the state. Thus, candidates have no reason to pay attention to voters unless they live in a state where the race is within a few percentage points.

Based on TV time bought by the candidates, the presidential campaign will expand, in the next few weeks, to a total of about a dozen states (adding Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Ohio, and maybe one or two others). About three-quarters of the states will be totally ignored.

“The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next President. Twelve states are,” as former governor Scott Walker bluntly said in 2015 while he was running for President.

If you agree that every voter in every state should matter in every presidential election, please send an email to your state legislators and ask them to support the National Popular Vote bill.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The National Popular Vote bill will guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The shortcomings of the current system stem from state “winner-take-all” laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in each state.

These state winner-take-all laws have enabled 5 of our 45 Presidents (including two of the last three) to come into office without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

Trump became President in 2016 even though he lost the national popular vote by 2.8 million votes. Trump won in the Electoral College (and hence the White House) because he carried Michigan by a bare 11,000 votes, Wisconsin by 23,000, and Pennsylvania by 44,000. These 78,000 votes in these three states were 36 times more important than the 2.8 million votes from the rest of the country that they canceled out.

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Because of current state winner-take-all laws, presidential candidates regularly ignore three-quarters of the states in the general-election campaign. Candidates ignore states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

In 2016, virtually all (94%) the general-election campaign events (and virtually all campaign expenditures) were in the 12 closely divided states where Trump’s support was between 43% and 51%. Thirty-eight states were virtually ignored, including 12 of the 13 smallest states and almost all rural, agricultural, Southern, Western, and Northeastern states.

Voter participation is depressed in states that are ignored in presidential elections. Voter turnout was 11% higher in 2016 in the dozen closely divided battleground states.

The U.S. Constitution (Article II) gives states exclusive control over awarding their electoral votes: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”

The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution, was not debated at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and was not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It is purely state law, and state laws may be changed the same way as they were originally enacted (namely by action of the state legislature).

The National Popular Vote compact will take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes (270 of 538). After the compact comes into effect, all the popular votes for each candidate from all 50 states and DC will be added together. All of the electoral votes from all of the enacting states will be awarded to the candidate getting the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC. The presidential candidate supported by the most voters in all 50 states and DC will thereby win a majority of the electoral votes in the Electoral College (at least 270), and thus become President.

The compact has been enacted by 15 states and the District of Columbia (together possessing 196 electoral votes), including 4 small states (DE, HI, RI, VT), 8 medium-sized states (CO, CT, MD, MA, NJ, NM, OR, WA), and 3 big states (CA, IL, NY).

The compact will take effect when enacted by states with 74 more electoral votes (for a total of 270). The compact has already passed at least one legislative chamber in 9 additional states possessing 88 electoral votes (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK, VA).

The National Popular Vote bill will ensure that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.

Learn more at National Popular Vote.

COLORADO and “YES on NPV Ballot #113”

Proposition 113 is on the ballot in Colorado this November. A YES vote on Prop 113 supports the National Popular Vote, which guarantees the Presidency to the candidate who wins the most votes in all 50 states. Last year, Governor Polis signed the National Popular Vote into law. On November 3rd, Coloradans will be asked to approve the decision of the Legislature and the Governor.

The Denver Post just endorsed the campaign to elect the president by National Popular Vote!

We urge voters to vote yes on Proposition 113, and help this nation get to a popularly elected president. Our votes for president – an increasingly powerful position — are being diluted or erased in a way that occurs for no other elected official in this nation. This is a matter of preserving the sanctity of our votes across the nation. We can no longer allow millions of voters to feel their vote for president is futile because they are in the minority in their state. Republicans in California and Democrats in Texas should have their votes count as much as the votes of their political counterparts.

This is HUGE – and exactly the kind of momentum needed to sustain National Popular Vote. It’s clear that the NPV movement to make every vote for president count is gaining traction with voters across Colorado. But current polls show Proposition 113 with a narrow lead, which could disappear if endorsements like this one are not shared with undecided voters.

Thanks so much for your support, Floridians for NPV.

Myth #5: The current system ensures that presidential candidates reach out to all states.

The shortcomings of the current system of electing the President stem from “winner-take-all” laws that were enacted in the mid-1800s by state legislatures in the 48 states then in existence. These laws award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in each state. Far from ensuring that presidential candidates reach out to all states, the current state-by-state winner-take-all method of electing the President resulted in four out of five states being ignored in the 2016 general-election campaign for President. Almost all campaign events (94%) were in the 12 states where Trump’s support was between 43% and 51%. Two-thirds of the events (273 of 399) were in just 6 states (OH, FL, VA, NC, PA, MI).

General Election Campaign events for Trump and Clinton in 2016

Because of these state winner-take-all statutes, presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to the issues of concern to voters in states where the statewide outcome is a foregone conclusion with the result that governance issues are adversely affected.

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“Battleground” states receive:

  • 7% more federal grants than “spectator” states
  • Twice as many presidential disaster declarations
  • More Superfund enforcement exemptions
  • More No Child Left Behind law exemptions

 

Five of our 45 Presidents have come into office without having won the most popular votes nationwide.
The 2000 and 2016 elections are the most recent examples of elections in which a second-place candidate won the White House. Near-misses are also common under the current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes. A shift of 59,393 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected John Kerry despite President Bush’s nationwide lead of over 3,000,000 votes.

The U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1) gives the states exclusive control over awarding their electoral votes: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….” The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is state law. It is not in the U.S. Constitution. The winner-take-all rule was used by only three states in 1789, and all three repealed it by 1800. It was not until the 11th presidential election (1828) that even half the states used winner-take-all laws.