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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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    Baltimore Sun
    Plan would make popular vote count
    Baltimore Sun Op-Ed
    Thomas F. Schaller
    March 26, 2008

    It is fitting that Maryland is pioneering the effort to create a multistate compact to ensure that the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote wins the White House. After all, it was Maryland's electoral college system for electing state senators, first established in 1776, that the U.S. Constitution's drafters later used as a model for creating the Electoral College as we know it today.

    Last year, Sen. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County spearheaded the successful campaign to get the General Assembly to become the first signatory on what's known as the National Popular Vote plan.

    NPV is an attempt to ensure that the U.S. presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationally is elected president by the Electoral College.

    Currently, in all but two states (Maine and Nebraska), the winner of a state's popular vote wins all that state's electors. If a candidate captures a majority - 270 or higher - of all electors nationwide, he or she wins the presidency.

    This winner-take-all system in the 48 states has the potential for what's known as a misfired election, like the one eight years ago in which Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won more electors, and thus the election. Theoretically, one candidate could win just the 11 most populous states, from California to Georgia, each by a single popular vote, and yet amass 271 electors and win the White House - even if his or her name did not appear on the other 39 states' ballots.

    The most obvious way to correct this problem (though not everyone thinks it is a problem) is to amend the Constitution to either abolish the Electoral College or significantly alter how it operates. But passing constitutional amendments is difficult, and most small states are opposed to this change.

    Devised by Stanford mathematician John R. Koza, NPV employs federalism, the Constitution's core structural principle, to turn the Electoral College into a de facto mechanism for making the national popular winner the president. How? Because the Constitution grants each state the power to determine the method for selecting its electors - the people who vote in the Electoral College - NPV proposes forming a compact among states to use the outcome of the national popular vote (rather than each state's respective statewide popular vote) as the mechanism for determining which candidate wins the state's electors.

    This concept would work only if states with a combined 270 or more electors agreed to the compact; ideally, it eventually would include all states and all electors.

    There are many advantages to the NPV solution. Every vote in the country would matter equally, no matter where it was cast. Thus, competitive areas and swing voters in otherwise very "red" or "blue" states would receive attention from both parties. Most states, including Maryland, are now eliminated from electoral consideration well before November.

    "More money was spent in 2000 on political ads just in Florida than in 46 other states and D.C. combined," laments Senator Raskin.

    NPV would change that. And because a nationwide tie is far less likely than a statewide tie, the chances of a Florida-style recount fiasco would drop significantly.

    Those worried that Democrats would be favored by NPV, given Mr. Gore's 2000 fate, should remember that in 2004, Mr. Kerry came within one state (Ohio) of winning the Electoral College despite losing by a national popular vote margin five times the margin by which Mr. Bush lost to Mr. Gore. (Not many Republicans would have been singing the praises of the Electoral College had Mr. Kerry lost by 2.4 percent nationally and become the 44th president anyway.)

    The real beauty of NPV is that the compact is triggered only if a group of states with a combined 270 or more electors join together. After all, no state wants to unilaterally disenfranchise its voters by agreeing to assign its electors based on the national, rather than statewide, outcomes.

    The Raskin-sponsored bill passed by the Maryland legislature and signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley last April will not take effect this year, because so far, only New Jersey has joined Maryland in approving NPV legislation (though numerous other states have seen action in at least one house of the legislature).

    "The current system is complex and offends our most deeply held democratic values," Mr. Raskin told me, citing polls on NPV's Web site showing 70 percent of Americans want a direct national popular vote. "But to pass this, you need to educate people."


    Thomas F. Schaller teaches political science at UMBC. His column appears on alternate Wednesdays in The Sun. His e-mail is .


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