One morning in Maine
It was my pleasure to spend my morning in Augusta at Maine’s State Capitol complex. I not only met a great bi-partisan group of state legislators, but also bumped into NPV’s own Chris Pearson.
A member of National Popular Vote‘s board of directors, Pearson is a former one-term Vermont state representative. A Progressive Party member, Pearson was beaten by a Democrat and went on to direct Vermont’s Progressive Party before going to work for John Koza and NPV. According to my legislative contacts, Pearson has worked the issue hard in Augusta but is neither personally compelling nor willing to answer simple questions about how NPV would work.
The latter is expected: some of the most basic questions about how a presidential election would work under NPV have no answers. That’s because NPV, as an end-run around the constitutional amendment process, is extremely limited in what it can actually do. Some of it’s more honest proponents agree that NPV is bad public policy, but support it as a way to “shake things up” or “force the issue” of an amendment.
A few questions NPV can’t answer:
- How would NPV deal with the need (or demand) for a national recount?
- If NPV is really a “national” process, how can it have no national standards for ballot access or voter qualifications?
- What happens if states disagree about who legitimately won the “national” vote?
- How would the different incentives created by changing the election process change American politics and the unity and stability of our country?
On top of these unanswered questions, NPV has an even higher hurdle in Maine. Maine and Nebraska are the two states that award electoral votes by congressional district (with the remaining two votes going to the statewide winner). For those who like this “congressional district allocation” system, NPV would take Maine backwards by forcing the state to grant all its electoral votes to a single candidate.