“National Popular Vote — Electoral college reform and direct election of the President of the United States”

As my US readers may remember from their mandatory high-school civics class, presidential elections in the US are kind of odd. Presidents aren’t elected by the people. Instead, their elected through the Electoral College — the people’s votes tell the Electoral College what candidate the state votes for, and each state has a certain number of electoral college votes.

Thing is, each state (with apparently two exceptions) throws all of its Electoral College votes at the winner of the election in that state. In other words, even if 49.9% of the people in the state are for one candidate and 50.1% are for another, the state gives all of its Electoral College votes to the candidate with 50.1% of the support.

Because of that, candidates never pay much attention to states that are mostly Democrat or mostly Republican. They only concentrate on a handful of “swing states.”

It’s possible for a candidate to take the majority of the votes, but lose the election because due to the distribution of those votes, the Electoral College voted the other way. And not only possible, it has happened — at least three times, including in Bush vs. Gore in 2000.

Obviously this is a pretty poor way to run a democracy. It might have been necessary in the late 1700s, but we have computers and near-instant communications now, and the majority of people have favored changing to direct elections — where every vote in every state is counted equally — since at least 1967. And I’ve just today discovered that there has been a concerted legal push for just that for at least the last five years, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

Will it succeed? It already has half of the support it needs, and that keeps growing, so it seems that the question is when it’ll happen, not whether. It’ll be interesting to watch, at any rate.

One Comment

  1. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in more than 3/4ths of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%,, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

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