American Legislative Exchange Council



ALEC Members – California Assembly
From: ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force
Date: May 9, 2011
Re: CA AB 459 - National Popular Vote

If enacted, California AB 459 – National Popular Vote would radically change the state’s presidential election method by awarding the state’s Electoral College votes to the winner of the National Popular Vote instead of the winner of California’s popular vote. This bill shows a disregard for the historical importance of the Electoral College and is a threat to the political stability of the United States.

Under the current system, states are granted one Electoral College vote for every member of Congress from their state. There are a total of 538 Electoral College votes, and a candidate must win at least 270 in order to become president. The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College and thought it important enough to put in the Constitution in Article II, Section I. The Founders created the Electoral College to ensure a balance is maintained between large and small states and among different interest groups in the country.

Under the National Popular Vote system, a candidate could emerge victorious from a multi-candidate race for president, having won only a majority of votes in one region of the country.  The Electoral College system requires political parties to reach out to a variety of voters, across states. As a matter of history, no political party has ever been able to ignore any state for too long without feeling the ramifications at the polls—even in California. Candidates have been most successful when they build broad coalitions, taking into account the needs and opinions of a wide variety of voters.

Furthermore, a National Popular Vote system creates several different problems. First, a national recount of votes would be expensive and chaotic—imagine the Florida recount in 2000 on a national scale. Second, it would increase litigation when a state’s electoral votes go to a non-winning candidate. Third, AB 459 would have California join the constitutionally questionable interstate compact known as the “Agreement among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.”

This interstate compact is an end-run around the Constitution. The appropriate way to change the nation’s voting system would be to amend the U.S. Constitution, but the inventors of this compact know this will be difficult because Congress has previously rejected more than 1,000 amendments to alter the Electoral College.

Finally, a National Popular Vote will further federalize elections and give Congress more reason to pass election mandates, rules, and procedures down to the states. States will lose their distinct and important roles in presidential elections.

California should stick with its current system and reject the interstate compact known as the “Agreement among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.”

It is with our guiding principles of free markets, limited government and individual liberty that the American Legislative Exchange Council opposes the policies within CA AB 459. See the attached ALEC Resolution in Support of the Electoral College and Resolution in Opposition to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

For more information, contact Courtney O’Brien at or 202-742-8504.

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