MichiganVotes Bills

‘National Popular Vote’ scheme would let California choose Michigan’s president

House Bill 4156 would disenfranchise Michigan voters in presidential elections

You might not love how your neighbors vote. But you had better hope their votes count.

As the law stands now in Michigan, whoever gets the most votes wins the election — and in a presidential election, Michigan’s electoral votes. As it should be.

But a bill submitted in the Michigan House would change all that.

No longer would Michigan award its electoral votes to the candidate most Michiganders vote for. Michigan’s electoral votes would be given to whichever candidate receives the most votes in what activists call “the national popular vote.”

House Bill 4156 was submitted on March 7 by Rep. Carrie Rheingans, D-Ann Arbor, and referred to the House Elections Committee.

Read it for yourself: House Bill 4156

“I was elected to the Michigan House because I won the most votes — and the same should be true for how we elect our country’s president,” Rheingans said at a press conference announcing the bill.

“Fairness and living in a democracy means every voice is heard, and every vote is equal,” Rheingans added. “The National Popular Vote bill ensures that every voter, in every state, will have an equal vote in every presidential election.”

Rheingans was right the first time. The winner is the person who gets the most votes — among the voting electorate.

In her case, that was a House district in Washtenaw County, Michigan. In a presidential election, the electoral votes for a state go to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state.

In her second thought, Rheingans drifts beyond the mandate of a Michigan lawmaker, into territory that would disenfranchise Michigan voters.

If the national popular vote bill had been law in Michigan in 2016, it wouldn’t have mattered that Donald Trump won the state by 10,000-plus votes. Because Hillary Clinton won California big — big enough to swing the national popular vote — Clinton would have won Michigan, too.

The only problem the national popular vote would solve is that Democrats don’t always win the presidency. Only most of the time. Rather than a national compact that would take precedence over state law, how about good old fashioned campaigning?

Fifteen states and Washington, D.C. have joined the compact. When enough states to make up the 270 electoral votes needed to elect a president, it will take effect. This is a plot to elect Democratic presidents, not a civil rights movement.

“It is the public policy of this state that the one person, one-vote principle requires that the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide should become president,” the bill reads.

Electoral College reform is handled in Washington, not Lansing. In a sane Lansing, this bill would be a dead letter. In 2023, it might sail through in a single day.

When I wrote “Don’t California my Michigan” in January, I was being sardonic. The worries back then were TV shows, and office policies. That feels quaint now.

In the time since, DTE has moved to mandatory peak-hour billing that will approach California-level energy prices in the summer. 

A House Bill, 4235, would make union dues tax refundable. Except unlike in California, where there is a $400 million cap on dues credits, the Michigan bill has no cap.

Now, a Michigan lawmaker has submitted a bill that would let California override the Michigan voter. 

Michiganders should decide who gets Michigan’s electoral votes. Anything else would be grotesque. 

James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email him at dickson@mackinac.org.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.