All credit and honor to National Popular Vote, the non-profit that for years has championed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. By the end of this month 14 states and the District of Columbia, at least, will have passed and signed the bill. The total number of electors bound then will be 189, leaving 81 more to be committed to the same bill before it becomes effective.
As the finish line of 270 electors emerges from the fog of the future, I respectfully suggest to the advocates of the Compact that two ideas should be firmly embraced by them. First, for the good of the country and the long-term viability of the Compact it is critical to include voters from Republican-leaning states in the great advancement of one person, one vote as the means of choosing the president. Second, there is more than one way to slice an apple.
With respect to the first, I hope the National Popular Vote folks will be much more open about the states in which they are advocating the Compact. They should post the names of contact people in every state. They should sponsor on-the-ground activists who enroll citizens in the great cause. They should endorse ballot measures as a technique for winning support. A good first step would be to find a legislature that puts the Compact on the ballot for the primary in 2020, so that both Republican and Democratic leaning voters can decide whether to support the Compact. Oregon is a good case in point. Why not take this step? Get the Oregon legislature to put the Compact on the ballot. Let the people pick the way the president is picked.
Second, State Senator Bill Ferguson of Maryland recently introduced a very thoughtful bill in the Maryland legislature. His idea was to maintain the Compact, passed in Maryland in 2007, but to supplement it by offering to pair Democratic-leaning Maryland's electors with the electors in a Republican-leaning state in an agreement both to support the national popular vote winner in 2020. Representatives of National Popular Vote opposed this bill on the ground that the Republican nominee might win the national popular vote and then Maryland Democrats wouldn't like having their electors bound to vote with the Republican electors in another state to this end. But hold on: everyone has to agree that the Republican nominee, meaning of course Donald Trump in all likelihood, might win the national popular vote. If that happens, he deserves to be president. Denying that on the bet that the Electoral College will help Democrats frustrate the will of the nation is quite contradictory to the entire thrust of the great one person, one vote cause. I hope the National Popular Vote advocates—who deserve all honor—will recant this unfortunate position and support Senator Ferguson's idea.