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Disingenuous NPV veto messages hurt everyone

by Jack Santucci // Published April 24, 2007
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday vetoed the National Popular Vote plan to make every vote equal in presidential elections.

"Given the potential ... that Hawaii's electoral votes would be awarded in a manner that may not reflect the will of the majority of the voters in Hawaii, I believe that this bill is not in the best interest of the citizens of the state of Hawaii," Lingle wrote in her veto message.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a similar rationale last fall:

I believe strongly in democracy and in honoring the will of the people. While this bill honors the will of the majority of people voting for the office of President of the United States across the country, it disregards the will of a majority of Californians.

I appreciate the intent of this measure to make California more relevant in the presidential campaign, but I cannot support doing it by giving all our electoral votes to the candidate that a majority of Californians did not support.

Veto messages like this are either gross manifestations of gubernatorial sloth or deliberate displays of public disinformation. Anyone who reads a three sentence description of the plan knows it doesn't go into effect until states representing a majority of Electors have signed on. Do we really believe Lingle and Schwarzenegger hadn't read that description?

The other commonality is a Republican governor overruling a Democratic legislature. That reform becomes strictly partisan in America seems to be an unfortunate pathology; look at the history of recent redistricting reform initiatives. Yet popular vote reversals don't only hurt Democrats. Bush in 2004 was within a hair of losing the Electoral College despite a three-million popular vote lead.

The National Popular Vote plan is about equal democracy - about one person, one vote. The vote of a Chicago (IL) Republican should matter as much as that of a Midland (TX) Democrat. Lying to the public with states' rights vetoes hurts everyone except microtargeting consultants in Florida and Ohio.