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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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    Kansas City Star
    Time to rethink the way we vote for presidents
    Kansas City Star column
    By Steve Kraske
    June 25, 2011

    You can't call it a tsunami yet.

    But there's definitely momentum building behind one of those rare movements that grabs seemingly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans for a major reform of government.

    That reform is abolishing the age-old, and too old, Electoral College, which for as long as it exists holds out the possibility that the winner of the popular vote in any presidential race could lose the election.

    We saw this in 2000, and given the even-steven balance of the two parties these days, it could happen again.

    A group called National Popular Vote ( www.nationalpopularvote.com) is working steadily to build support for the idea, and they're having success — though the idea is slow to take root in Mo-Kan.

    So far, eight states have signed off on the idea, and 31 legislative chambers have endorsed it in 21 states. The most recent action came this month in Delaware and New York, where legislative chambers in each state easily passed popular-vote bills.

    Small states. Big states. Members of both parties. The idea is catching on.

    The bill is fairly simple. All of a state's electoral votes would go to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in the 50 states.

    It would go into effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of electoral votes — or 270 of the 538 total electors.

    Under the current system, the presidential candidate who wins a state, no mater how narrowly, grabs the entire parcel of that state's electoral votes. The candidate who gets to 270 electoral votes is the winner. The number of popular votes ultimately doesn't matter.

    The system has been around since shortly after the nation's founding, and its backers say it's worked well with only a few exceptions: 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000.

    That's pretty near every single time.And that's the issue. Almost is not good enough.

    Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, a Republican who ran for president himself in 2008, is a spokesman for National Popular Vote. He told me that he believes a president elected via the Electoral College who finished second in the popular vote would be disastrous. These days, there's simply too many difficult spending decisions that need to be made. America, he said, needs a strong chief executive.

    "The president will need all the credibility that he can get," Thompson said. Without it, that president "really will be leading from behind."

    Thompson said he's weary of explaining to school kids why they elect a class president by popular vote, but the country elects presidents a different way.

    That confusion, advocates say, only further clouds a political process that's already way too murky.

    Opponents tend to cite a common set of arguments:

    Small states will get overlooked. But they get overlooked now.

    A national popular vote will be the ruin of our two-party system. Minor parties will rise from the wreckage. Maybe, but pressure on the two major parties might not be a bad thing. Look what happened last week with the disheartening breakup of those private bipartisan budget talks led by Vice President Joe Biden. While Rome burns, those guys fiddle.

    This is the way we've always done it. But the founders provided ways to update the system. The time for an update is now.

    The Electoral College limits voting fraud to the state where it occurs. A good argument, but voting fraud in, say, St. Louis could still be investigated in St. Louis without it becoming a national crisis.

    Instead of limiting a national election to the six or seven swing states that always garner the most attention — states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and, once upon a time, Missouri — the candidates would be forced to reach out to cities across the country.

    Bills were introduced in both Missouri and Kansas last year, though they didn't go far. But as Missouri state Rep. Mike Talboy, a Kansas City Democrat, said, an idea like reform of the Electoral College could catch fire at any time.

    "It's definitely going to get a conversation next year," Talboy said.

    With the Electoral College, the votes of people who cast ballots for a losing presidential candidate in any one state don't count. But our system is based on the idea that a vote in California counts as much as a vote in Rhode Island or Michigan or Kansas.

    At least it should.

    Let the conversation begin.

    To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to skraske@kcstar.com.


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