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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

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    Providence Journal
    From National Popular Vote to liquor store hours, Chafee signs legislation into law
    By Katherine Gregg
    July 12, 2013

    PROVIDENCE — Governor Chafee has signed this year's version of a National Popular Vote bill — vetoed by his predecessor — that would commit all four of Rhode Island's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes across the country, if enough other states go along.

    The bill was one of about 137 bills he signed Thursday and Friday — or allowed to become law without his signature — covering myriad topics from the licensing of massage therapists, to the selection of state judges, to the renaming of Rhode Island's tarnished economic development agency, to the time liquor stores can open on a Sunday morning.

    For the record: liquor stores no longer have to wait until noon. They can open at 10 a.m.

    Hundreds more of the bills passed during the General Assembly's final sprint last week await his attention and action.

    The proposed shift in the way the nation elects its president would not take effect until enough states, "cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes," joined a compact in which they pledged their electors to the candidate receiving the majority of the popular vote.

    Eight other states and the District of Columbia with a total of 132 electoral votes — or just slightly less than half of the required 270 — have enacted laws allowing them to join the so-called "national popular vote" compact. Those states are Vermont, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Hawaii, according to the website national-popularvote.org.

    Vetoed by former Gov. Donald Carcieri in 2008, the bill sparked high-pitched debate each time it moved through the Rhode Island General Assembly. This year was no different.

    It passed the House on a 41-to-31 vote, that pitted House Speaker Gordon Fox against all six of the House Republicans, several key members of his own leadership team, including House Finance Committee chairman Helio Melo and the vice chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, Rep. Grace Diaz. (The Senate vote was a more lopsided 30 to 4.)

    Opponents argued that the Electoral College, in which Rhode Island has four votes, assures that smaller states are not overpowered by larger ones. "Why anyone in Rhode Island would support the national popular vote is beyond me," said House Minority Leader Brian C. Newberry, R-North Smithfield.

    But longtime advocates — including Chafee — contend a national popular vote would bring Rhode Island and other small states more attention in presidential races.

    In an opinion piece he co-authored that was published in The Journal in 2008, Chafee said: "Not only is this a question of basic fairness, it is also in Rhode Island's interest. Right now, candidates have no reason to campaign here, organize here, or spend money here ... . Under a national popular vote, every vote would count equally, giving candidates an incentive to seek them here in Rhode Island."

    "On election night, we would know that a vote in Rhode Island counted as much as a vote in any battleground state, and we would see our direct contribution to democracy in the national popular vote total."

    But as the first of many deadlines hit, Chafee allowed two of the less controversial pieces in the General Assembly's economic-development package to become law without his signature.

    One would rebrand the Economic Development Corporation — that has become synonymous with the 38 Studios debacle — as the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, and require it to produce a mission statement. A second would create a council of economic advisers.

    He has not yet weighed in on the proposed, and much more controversial, appointment of a new Cabinet-level secretary to run the state's economic development activities, which he had voiced strong reservations about.

    But he also signed bills to require a "long-term economic plan for the state," launch a study of the state's sales tax and the potential for its repeal, and create a "Back to Work Rhode Island Program," which would allow unemployed workers to continue to receive unemployment benefits while getting job training from potential employers.

    The signed bills covered a wide swath of other topics from zoning to gun-control to divestiture of any state investments in Iran, to the confidentiality of school teacher evaluations to the pool of candidates for judicial openings.

    For example, he signed one of the few proposals in the gun-control package that House and Senate leaders advocated in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre that made it to a vote. (A proposed ban on military-style assault weapons did not.)

    The measure creates a Behavioral and Firearms Safety Task Force to make recommendations on how mental illness and substance abuse should be considered in evaluating firearm permit applications.

    A related bill — that he signed — requires school committees to update school safety plans and conduct safety assessments with local police and fire agencies. The plans would be exempt from the state's Open Meetings and Open Records laws.

    He also signed a package of bills aimed at helping military veterans, including one titled "Educational Assistance for Combat Veterans" that directs the state Board of Education to provide education credits for "military training or service when academically appropriate," and give combat veterans first crack at registering for classes at one of the state colleges or university.

    The late-moving massage-licensing bill requires the creation of a "Rhode Island State Board of Licensed Massage Therapists" and specifically bans "the touch of genitalia, diagnosis of illness or disease, the prescribing of drugs, medicines or exercise, high-velocity thrust ... electrical stimulation, application of ultrasound or any services or procedures for which a license to practice medicine, chiropractic, occupational therapy, physical therapy or podiatry [is] required."

    A total of 458 bills were approved in the final days of the session, and transmitted in batches to the governor. As of Friday afternoon, there were only five that had not yet been transmitted.


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