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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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    Citizen-Times (Asheville, North Carolina)
    National Popular Vote push needs thorough examination
    Citizen-Times editorial
    February 20, 2008

    Last week Barry Fadem, head of the group National Popular Vote (NPV), met with members of the state House trying to whip up support for legislation that would change the way North Carolina allocates its electoral votes. NPV is pushing for an agreement between enough states to tally 270 electoral votes, the minimum needed to be elected president, wherein states would award their electoral votes to the popular vote winner. Normally the two go hand in hand, but some elections — such as the 2000 contest — have seen the person with the most popular votes lose the Electoral College.

    That year, Al Gore won by around a half-million votes nationwide but lost Florida and the election after the Supreme Court intervened.

    The N.C. Senate passed such a measure last year. Joe Hackney, speaker of the N.C. House, told The Charlotte Observer it hasn't been resolved whether action awaits in the House during this year's short session.

    Rationale for change

    The operative theory behind effectively replacing the Electoral College with a popular vote mandate is that the electoral process, based on winner-take-all state primaries, freezes out states that vote reliably Republican or Democratic in presidential elections. Many of the most populous states — California, New York, Texas and our own Tar Heel State, 10th most populous in the union — have been largely ignored by recent campaigns focused on tight contests in a small number of states. "Swing states'' such as Florida, Ohio and a handful of other states get the lion's share of attention from candidates and their campaign dollars.

    Supposedly, candidates would scrape for every single vote, everywhere, under the popular vote scenario. Currently if, say, North Carolina, with 15 electoral votes, is safely Republican — +10 in the polls, for example — the Democratic nominee essentially surrenders the state and looks elsewhere to offset the 15 electors. Thus if you're a Democrat in North Carolina or a Republican in New York, it's hard not to feel you're throwing away your presidential vote. Under the NPV scenario, a smart candidate might try to cut that +10 to only +5, which could tip the nationwide vote. Theoretically at least, your vote would actually matter no matter how blue or red your state trends.

    Such measures have already passed in Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland and Hawaii.

    Constitutional green light

    One question that arises in discussing the NPV push is whether it would require a constitutional amendment. It does not. The Constitution already hands the power of awarding electoral votes to state legislatures.

    National Popular Vote holds much appeal. Certainly, the rare feeling of actually mattering in a national race that many felt in this state during the May 6 primary shouldn't be a novelty.

    But on the other hand, this is a dramatic and controversial move. It would mean that a John McCain (or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama) could win North Carolina by 20 points but lose the national race by 500 votes and nonetheless be awarded the state's electoral votes. Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, told the Charlotte Observer, "That thing tells our voters that the state would support the very candidate they repudiated.''

    It should be noted the Senate measure passed last year, S 954, was actually also OK'd on the House floor but didn't make it to the final vote. Hackney, talking to Gary D. Robertson of The Associated Press, said, "The way a bill passes around here ... it was just going on because nobody said, 'Hey, wait a minute. And somebody did say, 'Hey, wait a minute.'"

    Robertson reported the bill was pulled because of concerns raised by Democratic leaders in Washington.

    The big picture

    Their concerns may now be allayed, but a wider concern is in play. This concept has flown largely under the public's radar; it ought to be vetted via thorough debate before action is taken.

    North Carolina has established a tradition of voting for GOP candidates at the top of the ticket. The General Assembly, however, has been controlled by Democrats for years.

    The ruling party in Raleigh should be very wary of not putting what is best for the voters in front of what is best for their party. This idea is worthy of consideration, because it could make voters feel empowered. It shouldn't be rushed through in a way they feel disenfranchised.


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