Americans deserve better than contested elections: Here's how to prevent them
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In the months leading up to the election, pundits and politicians alike speculated correctly that the results of this election would be one of the most contentious in history. Clearly, we’re in for another wild ride. The coming weeks will be defined by court battles and public uncertainty over the highest office in America. Why? Once again, the state-based winner-take-all method has placed a microscope on election laws, practices and results in just a handful of battleground states.

This chaos started long before Election Day. For example, in Pennsylvania, there was a dispute about Trump ballots being thrown away by local election officials. In Wisconsin, someone found absentee ballots in a ditch on the side of the road. There were early concerns about voter fraud in Ohio, Iowa, and Minnesota — all battleground states this year. We saw these storm clouds looming for months. Now, Trump is crying foul and saying he will take the fight to the Supreme Court. Biden’s campaign has launched a “fight fund” for the vote count battle.

Trump and Biden’s campaigns concentrated every last one of their visits to just 15 battleground states. They left 35 states on the sidelines, watching the presidential election game like the cardboard audience in so many of our sporting events these days. The problem is NOT the Electoral College; it is the way the states implement the mandate in the Constitution that requires them to set up the method for choosing presidential electors. Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution says, “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors…” Most states have chosen “winner take all” laws, that is, whoever wins the state gets all the electors from that state, and since, in what we call safe states, everyone knows who is going to win the state, no one campaigns in that state. That is why those states are irrelevant to the outcome.

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It is also why fraud or incompetence in battleground states becomes so important. We were subjected to endless “hanging chads” in 2000 because the presidency was decided by 537 votes in Florida. In 2016, of the 12.5 million votes cast in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, the total difference between the two candidates was 80,000 votes. In 2016, no one anticipated the outcome. In 2020, the lawyers have been waiting for it. Hence the chaos.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact makes every vote in every state important in every election within the Constitutional structure of the Electoral College. The election wouldn’t be decided by a controversy of lost or fraudulent votes in Wisconsin, Philadelphia, Miami or Cleveland, where 10 or 20 or 30,000 votes could change who becomes president.

Sure, fraud will occur, but it would take 3 million or 4 million lost for fraudulent votes to change the outcome. That is a lot less likely to occur. That makes the outcome more certain — and less likely to be affected by lawyers. It stabilizes our republic, it decreases the chance of fraud because it makes the payoff for fraud less likely, and it minimizes the impact of incompetence.

Those are reasons enough to encourage states to join the Compact.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It has been enacted into law in 15 states and the District of Columbia, containing a total of 196 electoral votes. The bill will go into effect when enacted by states with an additional 74 electoral votes. More information is available at www.nationalpopularvote.com.

Ray Haynes, a Republican, is a former California state legislator and former national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).