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Opinion | National Popular Vote is bad for Michigan voters and for America

A conversation is once again brewing that could fundamentally alter the way the president of the United States has been elected since our nation’s founding.

Michigan Rep. Ann Bollin headshot
State Rep. Ann Bollin represents portions of Livingston and western Oakland counties. She is the former Brighton Township Clerk.

In Michigan, Democrat legislators are pushing forward with legislation, House Bill 4156, that would enter our state into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

If Michigan decides to enter the compact, and legislation is adopted by enough other states agreeing to do the same, this effort will disenfranchise Michigan voters by forcing our electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate earns the most votes nationally, not the most votes in the state of Michigan.

That’s right. If Candidate A wins the popular vote nationwide, ALL of Michigan’s electoral votes would be given to Candidate A – even if Michigan voters supported Candidate B by a wide margin. This would drown out the voices of both our urban cities and rural farming communities.

So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have adopted National Popular Vote legislation. With 195 electoral votes in hand, the backers of this questionable movement to bypass the U.S. Constitution only need an additional 75 votes to reach the 270-vote presidential threshold. This is a dangerous threat to our republic that must be stopped.

Our Founding Fathers created the Electoral College to ensure the interests of all states and regions are considered when electing the president – not just big cities and population centers like New York and California. Our largest cities in Michigan are much smaller than those in other states.

The system they developed – the one our country has used for more than 230 years – gives smaller states a say in the election, preventing larger states from dominating the process. This ensures the president represents a broad range of interests and has a motive to govern the entire country, not just the most populous areas.

The Electoral College incentivizes presidential candidates to campaign in a diverse range of states, not just those with the highest population centers. Candidates must appeal to voters across the country and address a variety of issues that are important to different regions. Michigan is the epicenter of the Midwest and our voices – urban, suburban and rural – should be heard. The current system prevents the neglect of certain areas in favor of others. 

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact threatens to upend this delicate balance and throw presidential elections into disarray. It will likely require states to prematurely accept the election results other states are reporting, even if those results are known to be incomplete due to other problematic policies like priority voting or ranked-choice voting. 

In the event of a very close election, a National Popular Vote would require a full recount in every state – a monumental task that would be next-to-impossible, given the fact that every state has different standards on when and how it conducts recounts. Without a governing body or other procedures in place to resolve differences, National Popular Vote member states would have no choice but to turn to the courts to settle disputes. We do not want to relive the hanging chad debacle of 2000 or the post-election trauma of 2020.

The National Popular Vote movement is bad for Michigan and bad for America. It’s unfair to voters outside of large population centers, bucks the Constitution, and serves to further erode confidence in our elections. Michigan legislators should soundly reject this misguided proposal.

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