Here are two electoral law proposals that originated beyond the boundaries of the First State and have national ramifications. [Note the text of this piece has been edited for clarity.] National Popular Vote compact would leave the electoral college in place as the formal mechanism of electing US presidents but reduce it to a symbolic role (as electors from states signing the compact would be committed to vote for whichever candidate won the NPV, not the candidate chosen by voters in their state). The NPV compact would become effective if adopted by states with a majority (270 or more) of the 538 electoral votes.
A number of states have adopted the NPV compact, including Delaware (SB 20, passed by a Senate vote on March 8, subsequently passed by the House, and signed by Governor Carney on March 28). At last count, the NPV compact had been adopted by 14 states and the District of Columbia with a total of 189 electoral votes, and it could possibly achieve critical mass before the 2020 presidential election. If so, a legal challenge can be anticipated on grounds that the compact requires the consent of Congress under Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution – which is not likely to be granted so long as Republicans control at least one house of the US Congress.
While the idea that whoever receives the most votes should win the White House has some appeal, there would be serious drawbacks in adopting such a principle on a national basis. Imagine the chaos, for example, if the NPV results were very close in a given year (as they were in 2000) and vote recounts, legal challenges, etc. ensued in every state of the union (it was bad enough when this activity was centered in Florida) creating months of uncertainty as to who had been elected president.
Or suppose there was a three-candidate presidential race, in which no candidate received a convincing plurality. Would there need to be a runoff election?
For the People bill, which was handily passed by the US House of Representatives on March 8, would effectively nationalize the electoral laws of the United States and put the federal imprimatur on early voting, voting by mail, same day registration, on-line voter registration, etc. as well as effectively negating state voter ID requirements and relieving state legislatures from the responsibility of drawing election district lines within their respective boundaries. This “wish list” legislation will apparently die in the Republican-controlled Senate, but it’s a disturbing indication of the growing politicization of our electoral laws. House passes voting rights bill, Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, 3/8/19.