"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors ..." -- U.S. Constitution
Ask your legislators to pass National Popular Vote

ZIP:
Endorsed by 2,110
State Legislators
In addition to 1,129 state legislative sponsors (shown above), 981 other legislators have cast recorded votes in favor of the National Popular Vote bill.
Progress by State

Tom Golisano

Entrepreneur Tom Golisano Endorses National Popular Vote

Short Explanation
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee a majority of the Electoral College to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote in the Electoral College reflects the choice of the nation's voters for President of the United States.   more
11 Enactments
The National Popular Vote bill has been enacted into law in states possessing 165 electoral votes — 61% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the legislation.

  • Maryland - 10 votes
  • Massachusetts - 11
  • Washington - 12 votes
  • Vermont - 3 votes
  • Rhode Island - 4 votes
  • DC - 3 votes
  • Hawaii - 4 votes
  • New Jersey - 14 votes
  • Illinois - 20 votes
  • New York - 29 votes
  • California - 55 votes

  • Videos

    Fox Interview

    CBS Video

    Popular Vote

    Class Election

    more videos

    Advisory Board
    John Anderson (R-I–IL)
    Birch Bayh (D–IN)
    John Buchanan (R–AL)
    Tom Campbell (R–CA)
    Tom Downey (D–NY)
    D. Durenberger (R–MN)
    Jake Garn (R–UT)
    What Do You Think
    How should we elect the President?
    The candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states.
    The current Electoral College system.

    Add this poll to your web site

    17. Myths about Mob Rule, Demagogues, and the Electoral College Buffering against Popular Passions

    1.17.1  MYTH: A national popular vote would be mob rule.

    QUICK ANSWER:

  • The American people currently cast votes for President in 100% of the states, and they have done so in 100% of the states since the 1880 election. In case anyone thinks it is appropriate to characterize the American electorate as a “mob,” it is a long-settled political reality that the “mob” already rules in American presidential elections.
  • The issue presented by the National Popular Vote proposal is not whether the “mob” will vote for President, but whether the “mobs” in certain closely divided battleground states should be more important than the “mobs” in the remaining states.
  • MORE DETAILED ANSWER:

    This myth apparently originates from the failure (by some) to realize that the American people cast votes for President in 100% of the states, and that they have done so in 100% of the states since the 1880 election.[462]

    In case anyone thinks it is appropriate to characterize the American electorate as a “mob,” it is now long-settled political reality that the “mob” rules in American presidential elections.

    The choice presented by the National Popular Vote is not whether the “mob” is going to control presidential elections, but whether the mob’s votes are going to be tallied on a state-by-state basis versus a nationwide basis.

    The National Popular Vote bill is concerned with the relative political importance of popular votes cast in different states for presidential electors. The currently prevailing winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a state) makes votes unequal from state to state. Under the current system, presidential candidates concentrate their attention on voters in a small handful of closely divided battleground states, while ignoring voters in all the other states.

    The National Popular Vote plan would address the shortcomings of the current system by making every vote equally important in every state in every presidential election.

    Thus, the issue presented by the National Popular Vote proposal is not whether the “mob” will vote for President, but whether the “mobs” in certain closely divided battleground states should be more important than the “mobs” in the remaining states.

    17.2  MYTH: The Electoral College acts as a buffer against popular passions.

    QUICK ANSWER:

  • The Electoral College has never operated as a buffer against popular passions.
  • There is no reason to think that the Electoral College would ever operate as a buffer against the winner of a presidential election, regardless of whether the winner is determined on the basis of the state-by-state winner-take-all rule or the national popular vote.
  • The Electoral College does not operate as a deliberative body.
  • MORE DETAILED ANSWER:

    This myth apparently originates from the failure (by some) to realize that the Electoral College currently does not act as a buffer against popular passions—and indeed never has.

    It is true that the Founding Fathers intended that the Electoral College would provide a buffer against the will of the people. They envisioned an Electoral College that would consist of “wise men” who would deliberate on the choice of the President and “judiciously” select the best candidate for the office. As John Jay (the presumed author of Federalist No. 64) wrote in 1788:

    “As the select assemblies for choosing the President … will in general be composed of the most enlightened and respectable citizens, there is reason to presume that their attention and their votes will be directed to those men only who have become the most distinguished by their abilities and virtues.” [463] [Emphasis added]

    As Alexander Hamilton (the presumed author of Federalist No. 68) wrote in 1788:

    Β “[T]he immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” [464] [Emphasis added]

    The vision of the Founding Fathers for a deliberative Electoral College was never realized in practice, because the Founders did not anticipate the emergence of political parties (as discussed in section 2.2.2).

    In the nation’s first two presidential elections (1789 and 1792), the Electoral College did not act as a buffer against popular passions but instead, acted in harmony with the virtually unanimous nationwide consensus favoring George Washington as President.

    As soon as George Washington announced that he would not run for a third term as President in 1796, political parties emerged. The competition for power was between two opposing groups holding different visions about how the country should be governed.

    In 1796, both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist parties nominated their presidential and vice-presidential candidates at caucuses composed of the members of Congress belonging to their respective parties. As soon as there were national nominees, both parties presented the public with candidates for the position of presidential elector, who, in turn, made it known that they intended to act as willing “rubber-stamps” for their party’s nominees when the Electoral College met. In 1796, all but one of the presidential electors then dutifully voted as expected when the Electoral College met. Moreover, that election established the expectation that presidential electors should “act” and not “think.” [465]

    The U.S. Supreme Court noted this history in its opinion in the 1892 case of McPherson v. Blacker:

    “Doubtless it was supposed that the electors would exercise a reasonable independence and fair judgment in the selection of the chief executive, but experience soon demonstrated that, whether chosen by the legislatures or by popular suffrage on general ticket or in districts, they were so chosen simply to register the will of the appointing power in respect of a particular candidate. In relation, then, to the independence of the electors, the original expectation may be said to have been frustrated.” [466] [Emphasis added]

    The political affiliation of the presidential electors has been determined by “the will of the appointing power”—whether a majority (or plurality) of the voters of a state, a majority (or plurality) of voters of a district, or a majority (or plurality) of state legislators (in cases where the legislature directly appointed the presidential electors).

    Since the emergence of political parties in 1796, members of the Electoral College have almost always voted for the nominees determined by the nominating caucus or convention of the elector’s own political party.

    Thus, the Electoral College has never acted as a buffer against popular passions—either before or after 1796.

    There is no reason to think that the Electoral College would ever operate as a buffer against the winner of a presidential election, regardless of whether the winner is determined on the basis of the state-by-state winner-take-all rule or the national popular vote.

    Figure 9.6 shows the meeting of the Minnesota Electoral College in St. Paul on December 17, 2012.

    Description: Figure-9

    Figure 9.6 Meeting of Minnesota Electoral College in St. Paul on December 17, 2012

     

    17.3  MYTH: The current system of electing the President would prevent a Hitler or similar demagogue from coming to power in the United States.

    QUICK ANSWER:

  • Adolf Hitler did not come to power in Germany as a result of a national popular vote.
  • The National Popular Vote compact does not abolish the office of presidential elector or the Electoral College. Thus, there would be no reduction in whatever protection (if any) that the current Electoral College system might provide in terms of preventing a demagogue from coming to power in the United States. However, there is no reason to think that the Electoral College would prevent a demagogue from being elected President of the United States, regardless of whether presidential electors are elected on the basis of the state-by-state winner-take-all rule or the nationwide popular vote.
  • It is the responsibility of the voters to ensure that no future President of the United States is a demagogue.
  • MORE DETAILED ANSWER:

    It is sometimes asserted that Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany as a result of a national popular vote and that the current Electoral-College system of electing the President would prevent a similar demagogue from coming to power in the United States.[467]

    Adolf Hitler did not come to power in Germany as a result of a national popular vote. In fact, Hitler was rejected by almost a two-to-one nationwide popular-vote margin when he ran for the presidency of the Weimar Republic.

    In the March 13, 1932, election for President, the results were:

  • Hindenburg (the incumbent)—49.6%,
  • Hitler (National Socialist)—30.1%,
  • Thaelmann (Communist)—13.2%, and
  • Duesterberg (Nationalist)—6.8%. [468]
  • Because President Hindenburg did not receive an absolute majority of the votes, a run-off was held on April 10, 1932, among the top three candidates. The results of the run-off were:

  • Hindenburg (the incumbent)—53.0%,
  • Hitler (National Socialist)—36.8%, and
  • Thaelmann (Communist)—10.2%.
  • On July 31, 1932, parliamentary elections were held in Germany, and Hitler’s National Socialist Party won the largest number of seats in the Reichstag (230 out of 608); however, these 230 seats were far from a majority.

    On November 6, 1932, another parliamentary election was held, and the strength of Hitler’s party was reduced to 196 seats out of 608 in the Reichstag.

    On January 30, 1933, a deal was orchestrated by a coalition of parties and power brokers who (mistakenly) thought they could control Hitler. As a result of this deal, President Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany. Once in power as Chancellor, Hitler quickly used his position of Chancellor (and, in particular, the control over the police that his party gained in the deal) to create a one-party dictatorship in Germany.

    The National Popular Vote compact would not abolish the office of presidential elector or the Electoral College, so there would be no reduction in whatever protection (if any) that the current structure of the Electoral College might offer in terms of preventing a demagogue from coming to power in the United States.

    A demagogue capable of winning the national popular vote in the United States would simultaneously win the popular vote in numerous states, including the closely divided battleground states. There is certainly nothing about the state-by-state winner-take-all method of electing presidential electors that favors or impedes demagogues compared to non-demagogic candidates. The national popular vote winner simultaneously has won a majority of the Electoral College in 53 of the nation’s 57 presidential elections from 1789 to 2012, and there is no reason to think that a demagogue would be less likely than a non-demagogic candidate to win a majority of the Electoral College while losing the nationwide popular vote.

    Presidential electors are loyal supporters of the nominee of their own political party. There is no reason to think that presidential electors nominated by a demagogue’s political party would be any less loyal to their party’s nominee than a presidential elector representing a non-demagogic candidate. If anything, presidential electors allied with a demagogue would very likely be more loyal to their candidate.

    Thus, it is unlikely that the current Electoral College system could prevent a demagogue from being elected President of the United States, regardless of whether votes for presidential elector are tallied on the basis of the state-by-state winner-take-all rule or on the basis of the total nationwide popular vote.

    It is certainly conceivable that a majority of the voters might, at some time in the future, support a demagogue for President of the United States. Indeed, some supporters of the losing presidential candidate entertain this very thought after every election. However, if the voters support a demagogue, there is no reason to think that the Electoral College would save the voters from themselves—either under the current state-by-state winner-take-all rule or the National Popular Vote compact.

    Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the voters to ensure that no demagogue becomes President of the United States.


    463 The powers of the senate. Independent Journal. March 5, 1788. Federalist No. 64.

    464 Publius. The mode of electing the President. Independent Journal. March 12, 1788. Federalist No. 68.

    465 A Federalist supporter famously complained in the December 15, 1796, issue of United States Gazette that Samuel Miles, a Federalist presidential elector, had voted for Thomas Jefferson, instead of John Adams, by saying, “What, do I chufe Samuel Miles to determine for me whether John Adams or Thomas Jefferfon is the fittest man to be President of the United States? No, I chufe him to act, not to think.” [Spelling per original]. Of the 22,991 electoral votes cast for President in the nation’s 57 presidential elections between 1789 and 2012, only 17 were cast in a deviant way. As explained in greater detail in section 2.12, the vote of Federalist elector Samuel Miles for Anti-Federalist Thomas Jefferson in 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have intended, at the time he cast his unexpected vote, that his vote might affect the national outcome.

    466 McPherson v. Blacker. 146 U.S. 1 at 36. 1892.

    468 Shirer, William L. 1960. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York, NY: Simon and Shuster.

    Reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote reflects the nationwide popular vote for President