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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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    Winston-Salem Journal
    Votes at Stake: Proposal would change voting system
    By James Romoser
    June 13, 2007

    RALEIGH - Legislators in North Carolina, and other states across the country, are taking a look at changing the way voters elect a president.

    Under a bill approved by the N.C. Senate last month, North Carolina’s 15 votes in the Electoral College would go to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote instead of the winner of the North Carolina vote. The change would take effect only if enough other states pass similar bills.

    The bill is part of a small but growing national movement to make sure that the candidate who gets the most votes nationwide wins the White House.

    Take the election of 2000, for example.

    Al Gore won the popular vote by a small margin, but George Bush won the presidency in the Electoral College. Under the proposed changes, Gore would likely have been elected president.

    Supporters in the General Assembly argue that the plan serves North Carolina voters because it would encourage presidential candidates to spend more time campaigning here, rather than focusing most of their energy on a few highly contested battleground states.

    The proposed change, known as the “National Popular Vote” plan, requires states to enter a multistate contract and agree to assign their electoral votes to the nationwide popular winner, regardless of which candidate wins in individual states.

    Legislative chambers in seven states have approved bills that would form such an agreement. The agreement would not take effect unless it were signed by a sufficient number of states so that their electoral votes taken together would make up a majority of the 538 members in the Electoral College.

    That won’t happen by 2008, and it has generated plenty of skepticism. Some people say that the proposal favors Democratic candidates or that it would cause candidates to campaign only in major-media markets. Critics also say that it is nothing more than a clever way to get around the U.S. Constitution.

    Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, said that there are good arguments on both sides for changing the Electoral College system and moving to a popular vote for president. But he said that any change should be made through a constitutional amendment, not through a haphazard collection of state laws.

    “As people raised in a democracy, it’s just difficult to embrace the fact that the party that loses the popular vote (could win) the presidency,” Brunstetter said. “But when you say, ‘This is a clever way to get around the Constitution,’ that’s just hard for me to get warm and fuzzy about.”

    John Koza, a Stanford computer scientist who came up with the idea, said that a truly nationwide election is impossible under the current Electoral College system, which allocates electoral votes state-by-state. Candidates are forced to concentrate on a handful of “swing states” - such as Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania - and that means that they spend a disproportionate amount of time on issues that are important in those states.

    “If you had a nationwide election, it would be absolutely impossible not to campaign in, say, Kansas, because if they didn’t, their opponent would make hay over it,” Koza said.

    He added that the same would be true in North Carolina, which has generally been considered a safe state for Republican presidential candidates in recent years and has not received much attention from candidates of either party.

    Polls show that majorities of both Democrats and Republicans favor awarding the presidency to the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide.

    One way to enact such a system would be for the country to amend the Constitution, but the political process for adopting an amendment is extremely difficult.

    Koza’s plan relies instead on the states to cooperate among themselves. Still, that process is tricky and would require broad support among many state legislatures.

    One state, Maryland, has already enacted a law that would enter the state into a National Popular Vote agreement. In two other states - Hawaii and Illinois - both legislative chambers have passed similar legislation, although nothing has been signed into law by the governors of those states.

    And in four other states - Arkansas, California, Colorado and North Carolina - one out of two legislative chambers has approved National Popular Vote legislation.

    North Carolina’s bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, has been sent to the committee on election law in the N.C. House of Representatives.

    The committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin, D-Richmond, said last week that she wasn’t sure when the bill would come up for debate.

    When the bill was approved by the state Senate last month, it passed along partisan lines, with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposing it.

    Republicans argued that electing the president based solely on the popular vote could actually cause candidates to ignore North Carolina more than they already do - because North Carolina has no megamedia market and candidates would rely on such markets if they had to campaign nationwide.

    They also said that the plan could favor Democrats, because the current Electoral College system tends to give more influence to small states, many of which reliably vote Republican.

    Clodfelter’s bill isn’t the only proposal this year for changing the way that North Carolina assigns its electoral votes. Another bill - which was also approved by the state Senate along partisan lines - would allocate 13 of the state’s 15 electoral votes based on which presidential candidate gets the most votes in each of the state’s 13 congressional districts. The bill’s sponsor is Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin.

    Currently, only Maine and Nebraska use such a system of assigning their electoral votes. All other states use a winner-take-all system to assign all of the state’s electoral votes to the candidate who wins in that state.

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