Clashes Involving National Popular Vote, Hare (“RCV”), Maine, Alaska
By Richard F. Potthoff, Duke University
Apparently unnoticed by its advocates, a prominent effort to improve the troubled US presidential-election system—the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC)—is on a collision course with another effort at electoral change—“ranked-choice voting” (RCV, known previously by less ambiguous names). The NPVIC is a clever device intended, without constitutional amendment, to elect as president the nationwide popular-vote winner (i.e., the plurality-vote winner) rather than the electoral-vote winner. Election results in 2000, 2016, and 2020 enhanced its support. However, the (constitutional) ability of even one state to replace its plurality voting with another voting system causes the popular-vote total posited for the NPVIC to be undefined, thereby rendering the NPVIC unusable. Maine and Alaska recently switched from plurality voting to RCV for presidential elections. Consequently, tangled results and turmoil could occur with the NPVIC. To improve presidential elections, replacing plurality voting with other systems appears to be more sensible than pursuing the NPVIC.