North Dakota Senate Passes Bill to Thwart Popular Vote Compact

Written by Jonathan Davis

OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion

The North Dakota Senate has passed a bill that would prevent state election officials from revealing how many actual ballots were cast for each candidate in upcoming presidential elections with total tallies being revealed only after Electoral Colleges in the future convene to select the official winner.

If passed by the full state legislature and signed into law, SB 2271 would require election officials keep the official vote tally from the public and instead only reveal the percentage of the vote received by each candidate.

“[A] public officer, employee, or contractor of this state or of a political subdivision of this state may not release to the public the number of votes cast in the general election for the office of the president of the United States until after the times set by law for the meetings and votes of the presidential electors in all states,” the bill states.

“After the votes for presidential electors are canvassed, the secretary of state may release the percentage of statewide votes cast for each set of presidential electors to the nearest hundredth of a percentage point, a list of presidential candidates in order of increasing or decreasing percentage of the vote received by presidential electors selected by the candidates, and the presidential candidate whose electors received the highest percentage of votes,” it adds.

“This Act becomes effective upon certification by the secretary of state to the legislative council of the adoption and enactment of substantially the same form of the national popular vote interstate compact has been adopted and enacted by a number of states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral college votes.”

Some have called the measure an impediment to transparency and in some ways, it is. But North Dakota lawmakers have a reason for it: The National Popular Vote Compact.

Pushed by the left, the NPVC seeks to bypass the electoral college, established by the Constitution, because Democrats are tired of winning the popular vote but losing to GOP presidential candidates who capture the requisite 270 electoral votes to win the White House.

“The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” says an explainer on the website of the organization pushing for the change.

There’s just one problem with the idea: It’s very likely unconstitutional. An analysis by the Heritage Foundation notes that the Constitution prevents interstate compacts without congressional approval.

Beyond that, our founders soundly rejected the direct election of a president (pure democracy) because they feared that smaller states and less populated areas of the country would not be represented in the White House (and they are right). In fact, the reason why GOP presidents (Bush and Trump) lost popular votes but won the Electoral College is that big states like California and New York vote overwhelmingly for Democrats (but they only have a certain set of electors).

At present, 15 states and the District of Columbia have enacted the pact for a total of 196 electoral votes; if the other states don’t want to have to deal with this someday, they should emulate what the North Dakota Senate just did.