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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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    Sacramento Bee
    A One-of-a-Kind Rube Goldberg Election Machine
    Sacramento Bee column
    By Peter Schrag
    February 5, 2008

    It's Super Tuesday, the pinnacle of what's now surely the most cockamamie election nonsystem ever devised by the mind of man (and woman, too, if you insist). Voters in California and 21 other states will ballot in primaries or caucuses to choose delegates allocated by varying formulas according to the whims of the respective parties.

    In California, you get so many delegates for carrying each congressional district; so many for carrying the whole state, plus some others. For Republicans, it pays to focus on districts with few GOP voters, since winning there gets you the same number of delegates.

    Of course, if you hadn't registered by the Jan. 22 deadline, well before last week's round of debates, you're out of luck. In some states, if you don't have a photo ID, or a raft of other documentation, you're disenfranchised.

    In nine states on the other hand, among them Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin, you can register at the polls on Election Day. Voting in those states runs about 12 percentage points higher on average than it does in states that don't have Election Day registration.

    There have been a few instances of ineligible voters casting ballots, but most were the result of error, not fraud.

    If you were a Democrat in Florida last week your vote didn't count at all – unless of course the party changes its mind this summer and suspends its attempt to punish the state for trying to jump to the front of the primary line. In California, if you're an independent, you can't vote in the Republican primary, but you can vote in the Democratic primary.

    Bill Bagley, for many years a respected liberal Republican legislator (yes, Virginia, there used to be such people) and later a regent of the University of California, is so angry at his old party that he re-registered as an independent and voted for Barack Obama. That big tent, he asked, whatever happened to it? Obama may get quite a few votes like his.

    There have always been two different theories about voting – one that seeks to be inclusive even at the risk of some ineligible people getting a ballot, the other willing to exclude qualified voters to prevent fraud – or to increase the chances that only the informed, the educated and the propertied vote.

    Literacy tests and poll taxes, now banned everywhere, had a long and dishonorable history in America, lasting well into the last century, especially in the South. The ID requirement in states such as Indiana, which discourages poor and minority voters and will probably be upheld by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court, squints back in that direction. But chances are that for each fraudulent vote thwarted by the ID requirement, many more legal ones are discouraged.

    All this ought not be surprising in a country that still gives Wyoming and North Dakota as many Senate votes as California and is still stuck with the creaky Electoral College. Both are 200-year hangovers that, unlike most of the other original restraints on representative democracy – the exclusion of women and blacks from the voter rolls, for example – remain to plague us.

    If the national popular vote determined the winner in presidential elections, candidates of both parties, instead of focusing only on swing states, would have an incentive to campaign in states such as California, regarded as safely in the camp of one or another party.

    Last Saturday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger again celebrated the fact that the change of California's primary date was, for the first time, likely to give California a major voice in the choice of the major party candidates. In past presidential years, California, with its late primary, was at best an afterthought. By the time Californians voted the outcome had often been decided.

    Schwarzenegger appears to be right – actually only half right. For, while he supported the change to the Feb. 5 date, he vetoed a bill that would have spurred the effective abolition of the Electoral College system and given California real clout.

    Under the bill, passed by the Legislature in 2006, if states representing a majority of Electoral College votes passed similar laws, California would give all its Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote. Schwarzenegger blocked it because "It disregards the will of a majority of Californians," in cases where Californians voted for someone other than the winner of the national popular vote.

    It was a silly argument since, as in the elections of 1976, 2000 and 2004, the existing system can also give the presidency to a candidate most Californians didn't vote for. And as we learned again in 2000, a candidate can become president even though an opponent has more popular votes. Hypothetically, the margin could run into the millions.

    And then, of course, there are the hackable voting machines and election officials who, as in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, doubled as their state's Bush-Cheney presidential campaign chairs. We're not Kenya or Kazakhstan, but then again. …


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