Our Mission: Make Every Vote Count
The current Presidential election system is broken.
Two of the last three presidents took office after winning fewer votes than their opponents.
Our broken Presidential election system negatively affects how candidates campaign, how voters participate in our democracy, and how Presidents allocate resources. Making Every Vote Count seeks your support for a viable remedy: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact-which counts every American's vote equally and ensures that the President represents all Americans, not just the few who live in battleground states.
Most Americans of all political beliefs agree that all votes should be counted equally and the candidate who wins the most votes should take office. That, however, is not the reality of our system for electing the President. Twice in the past five Presidential elections the loser of the popular vote won the Electoral College and took office. This outcome was only narrowly avoided in a third election by a 60,000 vote swing to George W. Bush in Ohio. In the first 200 years of our country's history, this problem was viewed as a rare, almost quaint anomaly that could be overlooked, with the popular vote winner taking office in all but three elections. It can be overlooked no longer. Indeed, demographic studies project that this is the new norm. The chance that the election of the President will reflect the people's choice will come to be equivalent to a coin flip. And it is almost equally likely to benefit one party as the other.
In this century's networked economy, Americans are concentrating in a smaller number of states (more than 50% in 9 states) and in urbanized areas in all states (only 15% rural). Being informed about each other seemingly 24 hours a day, people can and do choose to coalesce in physical and virtual communities composed of others who share similar beliefs. The winner-take-all method of choosing Presidential electors fails to reflect this reality, assigning weight to the votes of entire states, rather than to individual voters, wherever they may live. The system discourages the two major political parties from campaigning or seeking to register and conduct get-out-the-vote campaigns in as many as 45 states and the District of Columbia that are now largely or totally ignored by Presidential campaigns. It also intensifies partisanship and facilitates extremist candidates gaining office up and down the ballot.
The country's Presidential election system has two components-the Electoral College system mandated by the federal Constitution and the rules covering the allocation of electors which are determined by the states. In 48 of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, electors are required to vote under a strict winner-take-all principle. This feature was never part of the Constitution and wasn't even considered by the founders. It was first used by Virginia in the country's fourth Presidential election to help assure that Thomas Jefferson prevailed over John Adams in that election. Over the next several decades, the other states followed so as not to be disadvantaged vis-a-vis the bloc voting by Virginia's electors. Today, only Maine and Nebraska-which allocate electors by congressional district-are exceptions to this winner-take all system. A very few states are considering legislation to adopt the district method. But because they are heavily gerrymandered, the effect would be to expand the abuses of gerrymandering from state elections to the Presidential elections in those states.
It is the winner-take-all feature of our Presidential election system, and not the Electoral College itself, that has led to the damaging consequences that have resulted from our deeply flawed Presidential election system. However, it is true that the Electoral College itself has always been vulnerable to failure. As a result, Congress has tried to amend the Electoral College system on over 500 different occasions, most often in the form of Constitutional amendments.
Nevertheless, it is fortunate at this point in our history that the crucial flaw is at the state level because, as the crisis builds, the solution can be achieved by simple legislative or ballot measure action at the state level.
The mission of Making Every Vote Count is to adopt the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement between states to elect the President by National Popular Vote. The Constitution expressly authorizes interstate compacts, and states can decide to participate either by state law or ballot measure. The Compact binds participating states to allocate their electors' votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The Compact will take effect once states having sufficient electoral votes to secure the presidency -- 270 votes -- have adopted the Compact. To date, 10 states and the District of Columbia, holding a total of 165 electoral votes, have adopted the Compact. In addition, in 12 states one house has passed legislation to adopt the Compact. And legislation to adopt the Compact has been introduced in numerous other states-red, purple, and blue-almost always with bipartisan support.
How the Compact would remedy the problem
The Compact's Presidential election system would immediately address the destructive consequences of our present system and would, over time, restore us to a Presidential election process that fulfills the basic goals of our democracy. Our Presidential election is the only one that is not decided by majority vote. Races for governors, U.S. Senators, mayors, state legislators, local school boards and zoning panels all are determined by majority. But not the highest office in our democracy and the leader of the free world.
According to demographers, political scientists, political consultants, and other experts, the effects of this reform in our Presidential election system would be far-reaching and all salutary. Our country would be a better place almost immediately, though some of the advantages of the reformed system would take longer to be realized, as the political process adjusts. The benefits of the reformed system include:
- the ballot of every voter in the country would count equally in tallying election results; thus, votes of individual Republicans in California would have equal weight to those of individual Democrats in California; likewise, the votes of individual Democrats in Texas would matter equally with the votes of their Republican counterparts; because they live in safe states, Democratic voters in California and Republican voters in Texas are given short shrift during the campaigns and in Administration policies and economic benefits from the federal government once the new President takes office;
- attention would be paid to minorities and other voters previously ignored and to the issues that matter to African Americans, Hispanics, Baptists, and Mormons, because campaigns would seek to appeal to voters in all states; over time, these reforms should reduce polarization and extremism both inside and outside politics, as well as the resulting trend toward paralyzing government stalemate;
- by making Presidential elections demonstrably fair and transparently rooted in democratic and American principles, voter disillusionment and distrust would also, over time, be reduced; because every vote would count, there would be massive increases in voter registration and turnout; and
- because the votes of every voter in every state would count equally, hostile foreign governments and other enemies would face a near impossible challenge to manipulate Presidential campaigns and elections compared to the present system under which they need target only five battleground states, and their efforts at intervention would be far easier to detect.
Making Every Vote Count has evaluated every other possible remedy for the present system. None is as plausible, none is as practical and effective, and several would be subject to similar or more abuse.
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The founders would not have tolerated the flaws of the present system, would have been appalled by the injuries and dangers these flaws have caused, and recognized that their revolutionary new government structure would have to adapt to newly revealed defects in the system and to societal change in order to continue to serve their ideals effectively. Under the Constitution, the states have the responsibility to adopt the reforms that Making Every Vote Count stands for and our mission, which we ask you to support, is to convince them to do so, based on a state-by-state and national sense of urgency.