July 20, 2018
NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE COMPACT, DO OR DIE?
The November election can have consequences for future elections. Who we elect to the Oregon legislature will determine whether the National Popular Vote (NPV) passes in the 2019 session. Advocates have attempted passage in every session since 2013. It has passed the House several times, but was stopped from a vote in the Senate by Senate President Peter Courtney. This year advocates claim they have the votes if they can defeat Senator Courtney giving way to a new Senate President that won’t block their bill.
So, what’s so wrong with the National Popular Vote? Much of the general public has bought into the marketing ploy of “equal representation” where every vote will count equally in opposing the Electoral College. But the proposed National Popular Vote Compact does not change the Electoral College, but it does change how votes are counted.
To review, the Electoral College weighs the votes of smaller states more heavily than more populated states. Currently, Oregon enjoys seven Electoral College votes. According to 2016 voter counts, each Oregon vote is weighted giving Oregonians a 1.344 vote value compared to California with a 0.999 value and New York with a 1.076 vote value. Even Washington only has a 1.111 value. If you average the 15 states that have signed onto the National Popular Vote Compact, the value is 0.802, which means Oregon voters would lose 0.542 of our vote advantage. Oregon’s weighted vote of 1.344 will have no impact in the compact.
Under the National Popular Vote Compact, Oregon still has seven Electoral College votes. However, Oregon votes will not determine who receives our seven votes. Oregon’s total votes will be lumped with other states in the compact and how the compact votes is who will receive Oregon’s seven votes.
If Oregon were lumped with California and Washington with their larger populations, Oregon’s votes are virtually invisible. Washington has about 80% more voters than Oregon, and California has almost eight times the number of voters. That means that less than 14% of Californian voters would have to vote before a single Oregon vote would count if every Oregon voter actually voted. And with Oregon’s current voting percentage, only 4% of Californian voters would need to vote before Oregon voters would have no say in how our Electoral votes are cast. It would take eight states the size of Oregon to out vote and override California’s voting power – assuming all states voted the same percentages.
The Founding Fathers foresaw that growth in states would not be equal so devised the Electoral College system to give a benefit to smaller states and more recognition. The NPV is attempting to remove that small state benefit.
One can argue that NPV violates the Oregon Constitution by not guaranteeing voters their “inherent” voting power as established in the Electoral College and subjects the Oregon voter to undue influence and outside powers that overrides their votes. (See Oregon Constitution Article I, Section 1, and Article ll, Section 1 and 8.)
Oregon has been known for its individualism represented in the state motto, “She flies with her own wings.” Why would informed Oregonians agree to give away their voting right to a Compact that will determine the vote for them? No matter how they form the Compacts, smaller states will lose their weighted voting power to states with more voting power. So, when you consider who to vote for in November, think about the sovereignty of your vote and what it will mean in the 2020 Presidential election.
You can check a candidate’s stance on the National Popular Vote Compact on the Oregon Abigail Adams Voters Project Candidate Comparison Guide on Election Issues (http://bit.ly/OAA2018-ElectionGuide). Ask your candidate to continue our independent sovereignty assuring the highest vote value possible for Oregon voters under the Electoral College.
OAA State Coordinator