Addressing what he called “the most important issue in America that nobody is talking about,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned Wednesday that the National Popular Vote movement is “getting dangerously close to achieving their goal of eliminating the Electoral College without actually amending the Constitution — without anybody even noticing, unfortunately, what they’re up to.”
The National Popular Vote is a compact among state legislatures under which they pledge that they’ll award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes nationwide, even if that candidate was not the majority choice of their state’s voters.
So far, California, seven other states, and the District of Columbia (all of which have large Democratic majorities) have passed legislation taking the National Popular Vote pledge. Those states and D.C. account for 132 electoral votes. The compact says it is to take effect when states with a total of at least 270 electoral votes have agreed to it.
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution gives each state legislature the power to decide how its state’s presidential electors are selected. All but two states (Nebraska and Maine) use a winner-take-all system in which the person who gets the most popular votes in that state wins all of its electoral votes.
In a speech at the conservative Washington think tank the Heritage Foundation, McConnell said a national popular vote tally might require recounts in all 50 states, if the margin of victory were small. “Imagine the following scenario: you’ve got a national election within 100,000 votes. That happened in 1968,” McConnell said.