CCP: National Popular Vote initiative a poor choice for Oregon

The Center for Competitive Politics sent letters to Oregon state legislators expressing concerns about pending legislation regarding switching to a National Popular Vote (NPV) from the current Electoral College system.

Changing to a popular vote system is likely to trigger a host of Constitutional issues that could destabilize the electoral system. One of the largest concerns is that states may attempt to withdraw from the system for partisan advantage, triggering both a political and a Constitutional crisis.

“This would not be without precedent,” said CCP President Sean Parnell.  “State legislatures have a history of changing the rules in order to hurt their political opposition.”

Specifically, the Center’s letter points to events in Massachusetts, where the legislature changed the laws regarding vacant U.S. Senate seats twice in recent years to favor partisan interests. Adopting the NPV would mean presidential elections would be open to these sorts of high-stakes political games.

“The electoral college is an important part in the system of checks and balances in our country,” said CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward. “Changing the way we elect the president in favor of a system that increases the chances of electoral chaos and voter anger is not in the best interest of our country.”

Another concern is that ballot fraud currently only impacts the areas in which they occur. If elections were changed under the NPV plan described by House Bill 3517 and Senate Bill 885, election fraud in other states impact how another state allocates its delegates. In addition, this would magnify the uncertainty and chaos of ballot recounts and ultimately serve to undermine the legitimacy of the results.

“The Electoral College serves a vital function in our Constitutional system,” said Parnell. “The NPV represents a step backwards for the rights of Oregon’s citizens.”