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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
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  • New York - 29 votes
  • California - 55 votes

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    Sacramento Bee
    States Would Agree to Cast All Their Electoral Votes for the Winner of the Popular Balloting Nationwide
    By Jim Sanders
    Bee Capitol Bureau
    May 22, 2006

    Six years after Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the presidency to Republican George W. Bush, there's a new move afoot in the California Legislature and other states to ensure that such things never happen again.

    The linchpin is a proposed "interstate compact," designed to guarantee that presidents will be selected by popular vote, without amending the U.S. Constitution or eliminating the Electoral College.

    Assemblyman Tom Umberg, a Santa Ana Democrat who chairs the Assembly Election and Redistricting Committee, said the basic premise is understandable even to children.

    "When you're in first grade, if the person who got the second-most votes became class leader, the kids would recognize that this is not a fair system," he said.

    Umberg's Assembly Bill 2948, proposing such a compact, passed the Assembly's elections and appropriations committees on party-line votes, with Republicans opposed.

    "We have a system that's worked effectively for more than 200 years," said Sal Russo, a GOP political consultant. "We probably should be very hesitant to change that."

    John Koza, an official of National Popular Vote, which is pushing the proposal, said sentiment has not split along party lines in other states.

    "I don't think anyone can convincingly put their finger on any partisan advantage," said Koza, a consulting professor at Stanford University.

    Though Republicans disproportionately benefited from the Electoral College in 2000, when Bush edged Gore despite getting 544,000 fewer votes, Democrats nearly turned the tables four years later.

    In 2004, Democrat John Kerry would have defeated Bush - despite 3 million fewer votes nationwide - if he had garnered Ohio's electoral votes by swaying 60,000 more GOP voters to his side.

    AB 2948 would commit California to a compact in which each participating state would cast all its electoral votes for the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes nationwide.

    The compact would not become effective until its member states control a majority of the Electoral College's 538 votes.

    The binding commitment would be enforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court, Umberg said.

    Any state could become a member of the compact, and any state could withdraw from the group - except during the final six months of a president's term.

    Besides California, legislation to create a compact was introduced this year in Colorado, Missouri, Illinois and Louisiana.

    Proponents are pushing to have similar bills in all 50 states next year.

    America's founding fathers created the current system, in which each state determines how its votes will be cast in the Electoral College, which ultimately elects the president.

    California and 47 other states have adopted a "winner-take-all" approach, committing their entire slate of electors to the candidate who receives the most votes statewide.

    Nebraska and Maine allocate most of their electoral votes by congressional district.

    Umberg argues that California is at a severe disadvantage under the "winner-take-all" system because its lopsided voter registration persuades presidential candidates from both parties to spend their campaign time - and money - in "battleground" states.

    California is considered safely Democratic, with the GOP trailing by 8 percentage points in voter registration.

    In 2004, for example, Kerry lost the national vote but won by 10 percentage points in California.

    Supporters of AB 2948 claim it will revitalize elections and increase turnout.

    In states with tilted voter registration, such as California, votes cast by the minority party will gain in importance as part of a much larger pool nationwide, proponents said.

    "A voter in Rhode Island is as important as a voter in California, I think that's the key," said Theis Finlev of Common Cause, which supports AB 2948.

    California, the nation's most populous state, suddenly would take center stage, Umberg said.

    Rather than focus largely on key issues in smaller battleground states, presidential candidates would have to court Californians, too.

    "You couldn't afford to have somebody else carry the state by 6 million votes," Umberg said.

    Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said an interstate compact would remove the stigma attached to a ballot-box loser who becomes president.

    "I think Americans are ready for a change," he said of AB 2948.

    Under the proposed compact, however, a state could find itself compelled to cast all its electoral votes to a presidential candidate resoundingly rejected by its own residents.

    Critics of AB 2948 say the Electoral College plays an important role in forcing presidents to build geographic coalitions.

    Assemblyman Michael Villines, R-Clovis, said sidestepping the Electoral College would make have-nots of small states and rural areas.

    "The small guy gets a voice only through the Electoral College process," Villines said.

    California and nine other states account for more than 50 percent of the nation's population. Wayne Johnson, a GOP consultant, said a compact would alter campaign strategy.

    "What you'd do is go into the heavily Republican areas or heavily Democratic areas and spend your money to run up the score in popular vote," he said. "You'd leave out whole sections of the country."

    Supporters and opponents disagree on how a compact would affect all sorts of political issues, such as whether it would incite vote-count fights in numerous states or reduce the ballot-box leverage of racial and ethnic groups.

    "This is the kind of scheme that would keep political junkies happily awake at night, thinking of ways it could go wrong," said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College.

    But Umberg said the biggest hurdle for AB 2948 may be a reluctance by lawmakers to change fundamental political tenets.

    "They're (legislators) by virtue of how the process worked in the past," he said.

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