Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attacked a proposal to switch to a national popular vote for presidential elections during a speech at the Heritage Foundation yesterday.
McConnell and six Republican secretaries of state discussed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPV), a proposed plan for using a popular vote in presidential elections. The NPV would guarantee whichever candidate wins the popular vote would also win the electoral college – preventing a repeat of the 2000 election when Al Gore won the most votes but still lost the presidency. It would do so by getting states to agree to collectively award their electoral votes to the popular vote winner, but the compact would only kick in once states with a majority of the electoral college sign on. Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia have joined the NPV, comprising 132 of the needed 270 electoral votes for the compact to take effect.
Rather than embracing the NPV as a way to solidify the Constitution’s guarantee of “one man, one vote,” McConnell lambasted the plan, calling it a “genuine threat to our country.” Though McConnell admitted that the notion of a popular presidential vote where the candidate who receives the most votes wins is “appealing,” he called the idea “absurd and dangerous.”
MCCONNELL: Hosting this seminar on the most important issue [the National Popular Vote proposal] in America nobody’s talking about. Everybody’s following the debt crisis in Europe, the presidential election in America, unemployment statistics, but nobody is paying much attention to the genuine threat to our country. That’s what I want to address this morning.
This is not the first time McConnell has expressed unease with elections and popular votes. In July, the Republican Leader took to the Senate floor to declare that we must rewrite the Constitution and add in an amendment permanently entrenching a Tea Party policy agenda because “elections” haven’t “worked.”
Awarding the presidency to the candidate who receives the most votes is an eminently reasonable and democratic position. McConnell’s suggestion — that ensuring the person who gets the most votes becomes president is a “threat to our country” — is not.