Electoral College Reform: The National Popular Vote Plan for President

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - 7:00am

220 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York NY 10001

"The promoters of a National Popular Vote, as they're calling themselves, have come up with an elegant finesse. Instead of trying to change the Constitution, they propose to apply it, one bit in particular: Article II, Section 1, which instructs each state to "appoint" its Presidential electors "in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct." Here's how the plan would work. One by one, legislature by legislature, state law by state law, individual states would pledge themselves to an interstate compact under which they would agree to award their electoral votes to the nationwide winner of the popular vote. The compact would take effect only when enough states had joined it to elect a President-that is, enough to cast a majority of the five hundred and thirty-eight electoral votes. And then, presto! All of a sudden, the people of all fifty states plus the District of Columbia are empowered to elect their President the same way they elect their governors, mayors, senators, and congressmen. We still have the Electoral College, with its colorful eighteenth-century rituals, but it can no longer do any damage. It becomes a tourist attraction, like the British monarchy." -Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker, February 27, 2006

The Electoral College system as we know it may soon change. Demos and FairVote are proud to present a forum with The New Yorker magazine's Hendrik Hertzberg, National Popular Vote's Chris Pearson and FairVote's Rob Richie to discuss the future of the National Popular Vote initiative.

The National Popular Vote bill advancing in states around the country would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since its proposal in 2006, it has passed 29 legislative chambers in 19 states, and has been enacted by Hawaii, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland: states representing nearly a quarter of the 270 necessary to activate the law in the next presidential election. Join us for a lively discussion about the implications of NPV for future U.S. Presidential elections.


Brenda Wright is the Director of the Democracy Program at Demos. She has more than 20 years of experience in litigation, public education, advocacy and media appearances on voting rights, campaign finance reform and election reform issues.  She directs Demos' litigation initiatives in the Democracy Program and participates in Demos' research and policy work on democracy and voting rights issues. Before joining Demos, Brenda served as Managing Attorney at the National Voting Rights Institute in Boston. Brenda also served previously as Director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C.


About the Speakers:

Hendrik Hertzberg is a Senior Editor at The New Yorker magaine, where he frequently writes the lead essay or "The Talk of the Town." Hertzberg has served as President Jimmy Carter's chief speechwriter, editor of The New Republic magazine, and a Fellow at the Institute of Politics and the Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. He is the author of Politics: Observations & Arguments1966-2004, and is a frequent guest on leading cable and radio talk programs. In 2006, his articles won The New Yorker a National Magazine Award for Columns and Commentary. Hertzberg is a leading supporter of establishing a national popular vote for president.

Chris Pearson has been a board member of National Popular Vote since 2006. He served in the Vermont House of Representatives from 2006 to 2008, where he was a member of the House Government Operations Committee. In 2005, he was the first Director of the Presidential Election Reform program at FairVote. Pearson has also served as Director of the Vermont Progressive Party, and has worked on the election campaigns of Congressman Bernie Sanders and Anthony Pollina, candidate for Governor of Vermont.

Rob Richie is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of FairVote, a non-profit organization that researches and advocates election reforms that increase voter turnout, accountable governance, and fair representation. He has served in this role since 1992, and is an expert on international and domestic electoral systems. Richie is a co-author of Every Vote Equal, which spells out the reasons and plan for establishing a national popular vote for president, and also co-authored Whose Votes Count about the case for proportional voting and instant runoff voting.

To RSVP or for more information, please contact Jinny Khanduja at jkhanduja@demos.org or 212.389.1399, or click here.

This event will be webcast LIVE at www.demos.org.