National Popular Vote would hurt Alaska

Voices of Alaska

The Alaska Legislature is currently considering a bill that would join Alaska in an interstate compact changing the way the United States President is elected. I have serious concerns about its true, negative, effects. The bill's supporters promote the change as a way to ensure that "the person with the most votes wins." I have participated in two hearings on Senate Bill 39 in the Senate State Affairs committee, and have researched the issue extensively. Again, I have serious concerns about the negative effects of this legislation on Alaska.

The Founding Fathers recognized the imbalance of power between large urban areas and small, more rural areas. They saw the concentration of power and special interests that occurs in large cities, which ignored the concerns of citizens living in smaller towns and communities. The Founders envisioned the Electoral College System which distributes power and influence, with fairness, to all Americans, regardless of where they live.

In the National Popular Vote, states would choose to join a compact agreement with other states. Under this plan, presidential votes from these compacted states would be pooled together. Alaska's 350,000 votes for President could be pooled with California's 13.7 million votes and the votes from Hawaii (456,000), Illinois (5.6 million), Maryland (2.6 million), New Jersey (4 million), Washington (3 million), Vermont (327,000) and Massachusetts (3.1 million). The top vote-getter from this "pool" would be given all the Electoral votes from all the compacted states.

So, that means ... Alaskans' majority vote for president, out of our 350,000 votes, might be for Candidate A but California and the other compacted states might give a majority of their combined 32.8 million votes for Candidate B ... and Alaska will be required to give its 3 electoral votes to Candidate B. Alaska's citizens' voices would be completely drowned out by the other 32.8 million voters in the other eight states  ...  and those are just the ones that have signed on to the compact contract so far!

This just doesn't make sense to me. With only about 350,000 registered voters, why would a candidate choose to come to Alaska, over spending time and money in California, New York, Ohio, Florida, Illinois or other high population states, where the media markets are huge and a dollar can get a lot more votes.

The Electoral College has functioned as the Founders intended by preserving our Republic of independent, unique states, compelling presidents to form inclusive and diverse coalitions of voter support, and offering stability and certainty when election results occur. However, National Popular Vote creates factionalism, marginalization of minorities, and centralized power of the government.

As President John F. Kennedy said, in support of the Electoral College, "It is not only the unit vote for the Presidency we are talking about, but a whole solar system of governmental power. If it is proposed to change the balance of power of one of the elements of the solar system, it is necessary to consider all the others."

This popular vote compact will happen when enough states agree to join the compact totaling more than 270 Electoral College votes. At this point, eight states have joined equaling 131 Electoral College votes.

SB 39 is in the Senate finance committee now. I expect SB 39 to come to the Senate floor for a vote. When that happens, I will be defending Alaska's sovereignty. I will be defending the voice of Alaskans to be heard in Presidential elections through our three Electoral College votes. I will have to be a "no" vote on SB 39.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, a Republican, represents District P in the state Senate.

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