Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rep. DeCoste: Repeal the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact for Presidential Elections

Representative David DeCoste (R-Norwell) wrote the attached column for the Boston Globe in support of retaining the Electoral College system for U.S. Presidential elections and repealing the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This column ran in the Globe South edition on Sunday.

In August 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation making Massachusetts the sixth state to sign the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The compact is designed such that once the combined electoral votes of the signatory states reaches 270, those states pledge their electors to the winner of the national popular vote. As of today, 10 states plus the District of Columbia with a combined 165 electoral votes have passed legislation supporting the compact.

In 2000, the Supreme Court awarded the presidency to George W. Bush over Al Gore, halting a recount in Florida that had Bush leading by a 537-vote margin. That marked the fourth election in US history in which the eventual winner failed to win the popular vote. Nationwide, Gore received 543,895 more votes than Bush.

In 2004, fewer than 60,000 voters in Ohio could have carried that state for John Kerry over George W. Bush, sending Kerry to the White House despite losing the national popular vote. If the compact was in force, electors from Massachusetts would have voted for the winner of the nationwide popular vote, George W. Bush, despite 62 percent of the Massachusetts vote supporting Kerry.

The compact guarantees a legal challenge. The Constitution prohibits agreements among states without the consent of Congress. A losing candidate would appeal, initiating another election result decided by a Supreme Court majority.

Are these the outcomes Massachusetts citizens want?

The intent of the Founding Founders in constructing the electoral framework was to insure that urban voters in a few states would not control presidential elections.

Although I would not support it, I believe citizens who seek to elect the president by popular vote should go the route of seeking a constitutional amendment to do away with the Electoral College. Should they instead effect the interstate compact, we would have a hybrid system in which the compact states’ votes would be based entirely on the countrywide popular vote while non-compact states would vote as they do today.

I believe the presidential votes of our state should reflect the votes of our citizens. I support repeal of the compact legislation.