Protecting the National Electoral Process

Image result for electoral process protectionIn its first issue (March 25, 2018, The Gerrymander Effect in State and National Elections), VoxFairfax characterized the Electoral College results stemming from the 2016 presidential election as a national gerrymander. Subsequent evaluation of the election results (April 6, 2018, How a Minority and a Propaganda Blitz Elected a President) analyzed the Electoral College margin of victory for the GOP candidate to reveal that 75 electoral votes rested upon 190,700 popular votes in four states (FL, MI, PA, WI) versus the 2.9 million popular vote count nationally in favor of the Democratic candidate. The popular vote margin in the four states was less than 1% of the combined 22.4 million votes cast in those states.

A remedy against the national gerrymander has been evolving since 2006 when the National Popular Vote Initiative (NPVI: was initiated to ensure that the candidate receiving the majority of the popular vote nationwide also received the 270 majority of the Electoral College vote. To date, 15 states representing 289 electoral votes have joined in this initiative, while two (Maine with 4 and Nevada with 6) may adopt legislation in the coming months. Several states, including Minnesota (10) and Oregon (7), have moved legislation through at least one legislative house.

As the 2020 presidential campaign progresses and measures to delimit foreign influence or intervention fail to materialize, the security of the electoral process remains threatened. Voters may be discouraged by the lack of efforts to protect the ballot box. The political science and statistical research has yet to emerge assessing the actual effect of Russian influence or interference in the 2016 campaign results. However, as noted in the April 2018 article, the sheer proportion of the known numbers—126 million bot ads—versus 22.4 million popular votes—suggests that the narrow margin of victory was conceivably susceptible to manipulation, if only to the tune of a 190,700-vote margin.

“While and Why the USA Slept” could be the title of a best seller following the 2020 campaign. Despite evidence, “insufficient” or not, plus his televised warning, Robert Mueller could not have been more clear about the threat. Yet the President and GOP congressional leaders have exhibited no inclination to adopt solutions, either legislative or by executive authority. To the contrary, the White House publicly has opted to accept the words of the Russian president that his government did not interfere. There are some who deduce from this inaction that it is deliberate, intended to benefit in 2020 from a similar game plan as identified in 2016. The Mueller report was unambiguous in stating that the 2016 interference was designed to damage one candidate and assist the other.

While there are some critics of NPVI, the democratization of the Electoral College in favor of popular voting coincides with the nation’s longer arc of history in the evolution of citizen participation in elections from the  enfranchisement of women, slaves, and younger citizens to the popular election of US senators. But, perhaps more importantly,  attempts to manipulate narrow voting blocs to control electoral outcome face a far more imposing barrier with NPVI where such effort would require targeting multiple states involving multiple possibilities. The 2020 campaign may provide an imperative rationale for implementing NPVI as a remedy..    

Categories: Issues, Local, National

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