"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors ..." -- U.S. Constitution
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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 New York Times
    The Tarnish of the Electoral College
    November 15, 2012

    From the late-1960s through the '80s, Republicans were convinced that they had a permanent lock on the Electoral College. The Sun Belt was rising, traditionally Democratic states were losing population, and Republicans won five of six presidential elections beginning in 1968. Democrats complained that this archaic system was a terrible and undemocratic way to choose the country's executive. They were right, but they were ignored.

    Now the demographic pendulum is swinging toward the Democrats. Young voters, Hispanics and a more active African-American electorate added states like Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Virginia to President Obama's winning coalition in the past two elections, and suddenly Republicans are the ones complaining about a broken system.

    They're right, too, just as the Democrats were a generation ago. The Electoral College remains a deeply defective political mechanism no matter whom it benefits, and it needs to be abolished.

    We say that in full knowledge that the college may be tilting toward the kinds of candidates we tend to support and provided a far more decisive margin for Mr. Obama earlier this month than his showing in the popular vote. The idea that a voting method might convey benefits to one side or another, in fact, is one of the strongest arguments against it.

    There should be no structural bias in the presidential election system, even if population swings might oscillate over a long period of decades. If Democrats win a string of elections, it should be because their policies and their candidates appeal to a majority of the country's voters, not because supporters are clustered in enough states to get to 270 electoral votes. Republicans should broaden their base beyond a shrinking proportion of white voters not simply to win back Colorado, but because a more centrist outlook would be good for the country.

    The problems with the Electoral College — born in appeasement to slave states — have been on display for two centuries; this page called it a "cumbrous and useless piece of old governmental machinery" in 1936, when Alf Landon won 36 percent of the popular vote against Franklin Roosevelt but received only 8 of the 531 electoral votes.

    But 76 years later, the system continues to calcify American politics. As Adam Liptak of The Times recently wrote, this year's candidates campaigned in only 10 states after the conventions, ignoring the Democratic states on the West Coast and Northeast and the Republican ones in the South and the Plains. The number of battleground states is shrinking, and turnout in the other states is lower. The undemocratic prospect of a president who loses the popular vote is always present (it's happened three times), as is the potential horror show of a tie vote that is decided in Congress.

    The last serious consideration of a constitutional amendment to abolish the college, in 1970, was filibustered by senators from small states who feared losing their disproportionate clout. The same thing would probably happen today, even though Republicans (who tend to dominate those states) are increasingly skeptical of the college.

    The best method of moving toward direct democracy remains the National Popular Vote plan, under which states agree to grant their electoral votes to the ticket that gets the most popular votes around the country. Legislators in eight states and the District of Columbia (representing 132 electoral votes) have agreed to do so; the plan would go into effect when states totaling 270 electoral votes sign up.

    Until then, new generations of voters will continue to find themselves appalled by the system left to them by their populist-fearing ancestors. An 18-year-old voter in California and one in Oklahoma will have much in common when they realize they are each being ignored, and when they realize there is something their lawmakers can do about it.


    This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

    Correction: November 16, 2012

    An earlier version of this editorial misstated the number of electoral votes at stake in the 1936 presidential election. There were 531, not 538.


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