CITIZEN VOICES® Base NH electoral college votes on national popular vote?
Mar 27, 2019
Rep. Ellen Read has proposed a bill that would allocate New Hampshire’s electoral votes to whichever candidate won the national popular vote. So far 12 states and the District of Colombia have passed similar bills.
If passed, New Hampshire would join these states in what is known as the “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.” The agreement would only go into effect if states with a collective 270 electoral votes joined the compact. So far, the states that have signed on have a total of 181 electoral votes. New Hampshire would add four more.
Article II Section 1 of the United States Constitution requires each state legislature to decide how it will choose the electors it sends to the electoral college. Currently, all but two states (Nebraska and Maine) use a “winner-takes-all" system where the single candidate with the most statewide votes wins all of the state’s electoral college votes.
There have been five presidential elections where the winner of the national popular vote lost the election in the electoral college. Most recently, Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote by 2.1% while Donald Trump won the electoral college vote – and therefore the presidency – by 77 votes.
Pros and cons
Supporters argue that deciding presidential winners by national popular vote would make every American’s vote count equally and would force candidates to focus their campaigns on more than just key battleground states. They point out that in every instance in recent history where the electoral college chose a candidate that lost the popular vote, the Republican candidate has won. They say this is unfair to Democrats, who often carry states with large urban populations.
Opponents argue that such legislation violates the spirit of the Constitution, which values states as unique jurisdictions. They also worry that a switch to the national popular vote could hurt the interests of smaller, less populated states like New Hampshire. Such people feel that the electoral college system helps balance the concerns of all the states and doesn’t leave the choice of president up to densely populated states like New York and California. As the adage goes, “direct democracy asks two wolves and a sheep to vote on what’s for dinner.”
Should New Hampshire give its electoral college votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote, even if that candidate lost in New Hampshire?
Discussion held on Citizens Count website and Facebook page March 28, 2019
What Participants Said
No: 406 people were opposed to allocating New Hampshire’s electoral college electors based on the national popular vote.
- “Absolutely not, that would defeat the entire purpose of the Electoral College.”
- “No way. The electoral college system is a brilliant way to keep states like NH relevant. Why would anyone support undermining it?”
- “The supporters are incorrect in their assertion, it would instead force candidates to only focus their interests on the extremely densely populated centers and absolutely make the interests of more sparsely populated areas (like Northern NH) take a backseat.”
Yes: 20 people were in favor of allocating New Hampshire’s electoral college electors based on the national popular vote.
- “Democracy means the winner of the popular vote should be president.”
- “Yes, emphatically! This is one of my top issues.”
- “Only those that are OK with cheating to win would agree with keeping the system rigged, as it is. GOP gerrymandering is why the last TWO Republican presidents GOT LESS votes but still "won".”
Other: 23 people commented on related questions and issues instead.
These included comments critical of the electoral college but which advocated for different policies in response:
- Eliminate the electoral college entirely: “Is this a trick question? The electoral college shouldn't EXIST.”
- Absolute democracy: “It should be a straight popular vote with no state lines.”
*Editor selection of actual participant quotes.