At our November 13 board meeting, the Common Ground for Texans board of directors voted to advocate for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), a state-level statutory measure to make sure that the presidency goes to the candidate with the most votes nationwide. We will build a coalition with other civic groups to pressure the Texas legislature, which convenes next month, to join the compact which already has 10 states signed up, plus the District of Columbia.
How does it work? Well, every state exercises full control over how its own electors are selected. Of the 51 jurisdictions that contribute electors to the electoral college, all but two use the “winner-take-all” system, in which the candidate with the most votes in the state get all of its electors. By joining the NPVIC, each state agrees to appoint electors who will vote for whoever wins the national popular vote — even if they didn’t win in that state.
But this agreement doesn’t necessarily take effect as soon as a state signs up. It only takes effect when the states in the compact control 270 or more electoral votes. Because that’s a majority of the 538 total electors, when the compact reaches this level of acceptance it means that the national popular vote winner will also win the electoral college.
So far, the compact includes states representing 165 electoral votes, or 61% of what’s needed to activate the agreement. If Texas joins, our 38 electors would be added for a total of 203, or 75% of the number needed. That’s not counting the contribution of other states which may soon join.
This election year has added to a substantial list of occasions in which the presidential candidate with the most popular votes did not win the election. We know that there’s a lot of partisan energy surrounding this issue right now. But we firmly believe this is a non-partisan issue: such a “malfunction” can happen to either side. If you’ve followed our work, you know that we’ve been interested in the electoral college for quite a while. So we are very well-positioned to make a non-partisan case for reforming it.
We are very selective about choosing issues for our advocacy; we only do it when it’s clearly aligned with our mission to promote voter participation, or clearly in the interests of fairness. In this case, it’s clear that the workings of the electoral college are inconsistent with a fundamental democratic principle: that every vote should count equally. The principle of “one person, one vote” has been recognized as essential in almost every area of constitutional law other than the electoral college. We believe it’s time for the same principle to apply to how we choose our President.
We’re currently working hard to identify like-minded groups and Texas legislators who will support this effort. We’ve created some literature to help with this:
If you happen to know a state legislator who’d like to sponsor a bill for Texas to join the NPVIC, please let us know.