Making Every Vote Count is dedicating effort and expense to inform the public about the defects and destructive consequences of the country’s current presidential election system. An essential ingredient for any major reform movement is to engage the public and promote a sense of urgency about the cause. MEVC’s blog operations are part of its vigorous multi-pronged efforts over more than two years to educate the public about the issues and especially about the desired reform, the National Popular Votes Interstate Compact. MEVC has organized and participated in events at the National Press Club, colleges and universities around the country and elsewhere, featuring speakers like Dr. Koza, other knowledgeable supporters of the Compact, and experts in various fields.
In both its educational and advocacy roles, MEVC has brought to bear its particular strengths and resources that complement, not duplicate, the efforts and strategies of other advocates for the Compact. Here is a quick summary of those strengths and resources.
Polls – Polls are important to determine what the public wants, the messaging that is most effective, and the challenges and concerns that need to be addressed. Poll results matter to legislators because they need to represent their constituents or risk being turned out of office. Polls played an important role in passing the Compact in that state after four foiled previous attempts. And, of course, polls are even more important when the reform mechanism is a ballot initiative. Polls have their limitations, but there are ways to factor in those limitations in interpreting poll results. MEVC’s pollster, Andrew Claster, worked for President Obama’s campaigns and most recently played a pivotal role in the just-completed Indonesian presidential election two months ago and a similarly decisive role in the Malaysian election last year.
MEVC’s political scientists, statisticians, and election experts – They help research, formulate and test MEVC’s arguments in support of the national popular vote compact. For example, MEVC has developed arguments that have added important new weight to the case for reform. One finding was that in future elections where the margin in the popular vote margin is 3% or less, one third of the time the electoral college winner will have received fewer popular votes nationwide than his or her competitor – whether a Republican or a Democrat. In 2020, the winner of the popular vote by 10 million votes, might still lose the presidency. As a result, the presidency itself, the country’s election system and our federal government will suffer a further loss of legitimacy at a time when the public’s trust in these institutions is already at an all-time low.
National security threat – MEVC, working with national security experts, also developed the point that because the current system funnels the entire presidential campaigns to just a few states, our elections have become vulnerable to foreign interference. A malevolent foreign power can much more easily target the small number of swing states than an entire national election. Accordingly, not only does this undemocratic situation dramatically erode public trust in government, but it has already made the country’s elections vulnerable to inexpensive and difficult-to-detect intervention and manipulation by hostile foreign powers – a threat that deeply concerned the nation’s founders and deeply concerns our national security community today.
Heightening visibility for the compelling need for reform – Over the last 12 years, Compact legislation has failed in a wide swath of states because it has ranked below other issues in urgency and priority. The antidote to that problem is intensified visibility for the issue. MEVC has conducted or played a major role in events, both educational and advocacy, in various states and nationally. It has used, worked with and been interviewed by television stations, newspapers, and newer media. It posts blogs four to eight times a week on its website and has an increasingly strong presence on social media.
Videos – Using the expertise of Michael Matthews, MEVC has produced a series of videos explaining the pitfalls of and damages caused by the current electoral system, and the benefits of the Compact. A series of short videos focuses on the adverse impact of the system on women, conservative minorities, and racial and other minorities. Other videos included Professor Sam Wang, head of the Princeton Election Consortium, explaining how voting trends in the future will magnify the harms of our system. MEVC has also just completed production of a comprehensive online course, “The Future of the Electoral College”, which explains these and other powerful arguments for reform.
Veteran campaign advisors – MEVC has retained the group that handled President Obama’s campaign in purple states and participated in numerous other campaigns. Its on-the-ground experience complements the input from MEVC’s pollsters and other experts. MEVC also gathers political advice at the state and local levels.
Coordination with local and national grass roots and public interest organizations – MEVC continues to collaborate with the groups which have made and continue to make major contributions to the reform movement.
Relationships with federal government officials and national opinion leaders with a variety of political philosophies – Building visibility on the Hill for presidential election reform helps promote the issue both nationally and in individual states. Also, MEVC’s board members have access to national and local leaders and frequently confer with them.
Expertise in federal and state election and constitutional law – To a far greater degree than is generally recognized, expertise in these issues at both the national level and state by state (no two of which have the same rules), is critical to achieving needed reform. MEVC has brought together an impressive array of legal experts, mostly on a pro bono basis, to advise on these subjects.
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In a future blog, we will discuss how and why MEVC launched its reform efforts and who some of its principals are.