It seems that people who argue that the President of the United States should be elected by popular vote, and supporting the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC or NaPoVoInterCo), are assuming that the “national popular vote” is a well-defined thing. That is:

  • All states (and DC) have a popular election for President.
  • Voters vote for President/VP tickets (or technically, for a block of Electors pledged to those two candidates) rather that for Electors directly.
  • This Presidential vote uses the single-vote plurality (popularly known as First Past the Post (FPTP)) method.
  • The election is a single round with no provisions for a runoff.
  • All states have essentially the same voter eligibility rules (universal suffrage for US citizen age 18 or older), so the number of voters in each state is not a matter of controversy.

But, what if a state decides to do something different? For example:

Perhaps the state makes such a change to their election rules for “good” reasons (to break the stranglehold of the two-party system), or perhaps a non-NPVIC state does it for the deliberate intent of subverting NPVIC by throwing the “national popular vote” numbers into dispute.

Either way, how would NPVIC address these issues that affect the definition of the “popular vote”? I can't find anything relevant in the text of the agreement. Have NPVIC's sponsors or advocates made proposals on how to handle these scenarios?

  • 1
    It doesn't require that all states have such elections, perhaps it requires that states that have agreed to the compact have such elections. If a state changes the way it choose a slate of electors in such a way that no popular vote can be counted, then it would have left the compact. . . so what would the problem be?
    – James K
    Commented Mar 21 at 20:14

1 Answer 1


The National Popular Vote website has the text bill with an explanation of the provisions. The one-state veto is considered. They even name-check 1960 Alabama.

Similarly, in the unlikely event that a non-member state were to remove the names of the presidential nominees and vice-presidential nominees from the ballot and present the voters only with names of candidates for presidential elector (as was the case in 1960 in Alabama as shown by the ballot in figure 2.13 and discussed in section 2.11), there would be no way to associate the vote counts of the various presidential electors with the nationwide tally being accumulated by any regular “presidential slate” running in the rest of the country.

The compact addresses the above two unlikely possibilities by specifying that the popular votes that are to be aggregated to produce the “national popular vote total” are those that are

“… cast for each presidential slate in each State of the United States and in the District of Columbia in which votes have been cast in a statewide popular election … .” [Emphasis added]

In this way, the first clause of Article III of the compact deals with the unlikely possibility of a “one-state veto” preventing the orderly operation of the compact.

  • It looks like there may have been some editing of the text bill after the explanations were written. The explanation says "...cast for each presidential slate", but the word "cast" doesn't appear in that sentence of the bill itself.
    – Barmar
    Commented Mar 21 at 23:18

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