Policy Summary: Under Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution each individual State has the power to appoint the slate of electors who will vote in every presidential election. The Federal Government has no role in a State’s selection of its slate of presidential electors.

On February 23, 2006 the group National Popular Vote introduced their plan for a proposed interstate compact entitled “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by Nationwide Popular Vote.” The plan was formulated by Dr. John Koza, a former professor at Stanford University, and was initially endorsed by a number of former Republican and Democratic politicians. The plan would be an agreement by a number of states to award all of their selected presidential electors to whoever wins the popular vote nationwide. The goal is to sign on as many states whose total number of electors would be more than 270 since a candidate must win more than 270 electors to win the presidency. On April 10, 2007 the State of Maryland became the first state to enter the compact when the National Popular Vote bill was signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley after having passed both houses of the Maryland Legislature. On January 13, 2008, the State of New Jersey became the second state to enter into the compact after Governor Jon Corzine signed it into law.

Since the time those two states entered into the National Popular Vote Compact an additional 14 jurisdictions have entered into the agreement – an additional thirteen states and the District of Columbia. The total number of electoral votes from these 16 jurisdictions is 196. The interstate compact needs an additional 75 electoral votes (for a grand total of 271) to go into effect.

As of December 2020 and by the count of the National Popular Vote group of the remaining states that have not officially entered the compact, a National Popular Vote bill has passed at least one legislative chamber in nine states (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK, VA) that have eighty – eight (88) electoral votes combined. LEARN MORE

Policy Analysis: With the recent vote by the Electoral College to affirm Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election discussions about the role of the Electoral College have sprung up again. This time the discussion was a little more subdued and did not have the controversy of the 2016 election since Mr. Biden won both the popular vote and the Electoral College vote, which had not been the case in 2016 when Mr. Trump was elected. But with Mr. Biden’s razor – thin margins in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania and the likelihood that President Trump could have won re-election had he won those states the discussion turned to how to correct the flaws that are inherent in the Electoral College. Could a candidate who lost the nationwide popular vote win the presidency again?

The National Popular Vote Compact is one of the more intriguing proposals because of the support it has garnered. The fifteen states and the District of Columbia have been a good foundational step to get the interstate compact moving. But after closer inspection of the other states who have not joined yet the truth is that support for this compact is much more significant than what is being acknowledged on the surface.

Of the nine states comprising 88 electoral votes the bill has been approved in at least one legislative chamber, which means that there is some support for the bill in those states. And these are not states where Democrats are in control of the government. Arizona, Arkansas and Oklahoma are traditionally Republican states while Virginia and North Carolina are swing states that have voted both blue and red in recent years. In Nevada the National Popular Vote bill actually passed both state legislative houses but did not become official because Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak vetoed the bill. And in Colorado just this past election in November voters voted on whether to stay in the interstate agreement and the ballot measure passed with 52% voting to remain in the National Popular Vote Compact. (Colorado had officially joined in 2019 but the issue proved contentious and the issue was placed on the 2020 ballot for Colorado voters to vote on.).

What all of this information means is that this proposal is not a Democrat proposal or a Republican proposal. This plan has had bipartisan support from the beginning and has had bipartisan support as it has made its way through various state legislatures. And it has proven to have wide appeal as evidenced by the fact that it has passed at least one legislative chamber from states in various regions of the country and even has grassroots level support as evidenced by the 2020 ballot measure in Colorado. This indicates that support to reform the presidential election process is growing even if it has not cleared all of the bill enactment procedures in a number of states yet. The goal for the National Popular Vote Group is to continue lobbying state legislators in the remaining states and add enough states in order to surpass the 270 electoral vote threshold. There is real support behind this movement and once this agreement can add enough states the unique situation of installing a president who lost the nationwide popular vote can finally be discarded from the American political experience. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, 

Engagement Resources:

National Popular Vote – group pursuing National Popular Vote Compact to reform U.S. Presidential Elections.

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.

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