"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors ..." -- U.S. Constitution
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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.
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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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    The National
    Critics chip away at electoral college:
    The US electoral system is unusual and can even result in a president winning the White House on fewer votes than his opponent
    By Erika Niedowski
    Washington Bureau Chief
    June 12, 2008

    WASHINGTON—Throughout his career, John R Koza has tackled genetic algorithms and biomedical informatics. Now, he is taking on something that, to some, is equally confounding: the way Americans choose a president.

    Dr Koza, a consulting professor at Stanford University, is among the growing number of proponents of a plan that would alter what he calls an arcane — and unfair — system of selecting a commander-in-chief.

    It is a quirk of the American presidential election system that the winner of the national popular vote can still lose; that happened most recently in 2000, when Al Gore, the vice president, received half a million more votes than George W Bush overall but came up five votes short in the tally that really matters: the electoral college. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency and candidates amass that total by winning in individual states. But under Dr Koza's plan, whoever gets the most votes wins. Full stop.

    "The current system, because it's a state-by-state count, not only permits the 'wrong' person to win, more important, it makes three-quarters of the states irrelevant in the election," Dr Koza said.

    Indeed, only a handful of America's 50 states are truly competitive in presidential elections — this year, 14 or 15 are expected to be — and it is there where candidates strategically invest their time and money. All but two states use a winner-take-all system to award electoral votes; that means places like Kansas (which is reliably Republican) and California (which is reliably Democrat) can essentially be taken for granted; everyone can pretty well predict in advance who will win their share of electoral votes.

    "Three quarters of the states are left out of the process, and the campaign is run in Ohio and Florida and Pennsylvania and Michigan," said Dr Koza, who serves as chairman of the grassroots non-profit group National Popular Vote and the co-inventor of an out-of-production board game based on the Electoral College

    Proponents of the National Popular Vote movement — which pushes for every state to adopt legislation under which its electoral votes would be awarded to the national popular vote winner — tout their plan with the following slogan: "Every vote will be equal. No state will be ignored. The candidate with the most votes wins."

    So far, four states — Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey — have enacted the bill, and lawmakers in 18 others have taken steps to do so. The bill would not go into effect until it has passed in states representing a total of 270 electoral votes — still a long way off.

    Thomas E Patterson, a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and author of The Vanishing Voter, said the fact that most states are not competitive has had an unintended, and unfortunate, consequence: it keeps down voter turnout.

    Candidates generally do not campaign aggressively, or sometimes even at all, in states they know they will carry. As for the voters themselves, someone who votes Republican in a heavily Democratic state might feel disenfranchised because, in every state but Maine and Nebraska, all of that state's electoral votes are automatically awarded to the Democratic contender.

    "You go to the national popular vote and all of a sudden you're bringing everyone into play," Mr Patterson said. "There's a bigger motivation to turn out when it matters."

    But Rhodes Cook, an independent election analyst based in Virginia, suggested that switching to the national popular vote plan as proposed would, in effect, create a whole new group of states without much influence. Candidates would gravitate to large media markets, he said, trying to reach huge swathes of voters. That, in turn, would diminish the influence of smaller states.

    "I don't see why you don't just get rid of the electoral college altogether," Mr Cook said.

    Plenty of people, as it turns out, have tried. During the past two centuries, some 500 bills have been introduced in Congress to abolish the electoral college, according to Mr Patterson. Doing so, and moving to a system of direct election under the principle "one person, one vote", would require a constitutional amendment, which, by design, is an arduous process.

    The National Popular Vote plan, which has been criticised by some as an end run around the US constitution or a partisan "sour grapes" response to Mr Gore's loss in 2000, would not scrap the electoral college. It would simply award electoral votes based on the nationwide popular tally.

    Barry Fadem, a California lawyer who is president of National Popular Vote, once tried to play Dr Koza's board game based on the electoral college, called Consensus. In it, players pretending to be presidential candidates have to decide where and how to spend their money and effort on the campaign trail.

    Mr Fadem could not even figure out the instructions.

    "We didn't quite get that far," he said. "Maybe the game reflects the current system pretty well: difficult to understand and difficult to utilise."


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