The National Popular Vote effort attempts to get state legislatures representing at least 270 electoral votes (a majority) to change their state laws so that the state’s electors will be pledged to vote for the candidate getting a majority of the national popular vote. Since the Constitution assigns the choice of systems for selecting electors to the state legislatures, this would not require an amendment to the Constitution. NPV claims to have secured passage of the necessary bills in states with a total of 132 EV so far: about halfway to the critical value.
I’ve been more or less favorable to the idea: why should the system encourage Presidential candidates pander to Iowans and Ohians and ignore New Yorkers and Mississippians? (Or, put a different way, why should Californians be spared the relentless onslaught of “I approve this message” to which Virginians are subjected?)
But Sandy – which may well not be the last mid-Fall superstorm we see – points up a major problem with that idea. Storm clean-up will seriously depress the vote in New Jersey and New York. If NPV were in place, the storm would create a huge and undeserved advantage for Romney.
Of course, weather is always a factor; if the storm had hit Philadelphia harder that could have swing Pennsylvania into the Romney column; an early blizzard in Cleveland could have handed him Ohio.
But a state-based system is somewhat less vulnerable to weather accidents than a national system. So it seems to me that NPV needs to wait until we finish the process of moving voting away from physical appearance at polling places on a single Election Day. That would eliminate not only the weather problem but the not-enough-voting-machines problem.