States Against The Electoral College Could Have A Big Say In 2020
On Thursday, New Mexico became the latest state to promise its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote in future presidential elections, as long as a certain number of states are on-board. There are now 14 states as well as the District of Columbia who have agreed to this same compact, according to CNN. If several more states turn against the Electoral College, there's a chance the system could change in a big way.
The National Popular Vote interstate compact claims to be a "constitutionally conservative, state-based approach that preserves the Electoral College, state control of elections, and the power of the states to control how the President is elected," according to its official site. Per the site, the compact will only go into effect when enough states sign on to promise enough electoral votes to elect a president, which requires at least 270 of the 538 electors. Right now, the 14 states on-board represent 189 electoral votes. The site's mission reads in part,
Because of state winner-take-all statutes, five of our 45 Presidents have come into office without having won the most popular votes nationwide. The 2000 and 2016 elections are the most recent examples of elections in which a second-place candidate won the White House. Near-misses are also common under the current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes. A shift of 59,393 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected John Kerry despite President Bush’s nationwide lead of over 3,000,000 votes.
Here's what you need to know about the states who have already signed on to the compact to put presidential elections back in the hands of voters:
In California, each elector for the state represents 712,000 people, per The Washington Post. In comparison, each elector in Wyoming represents 195,000 people.
Colorado signed onto the pact on March 16. To The Washington Post, Reed Hundt, chairman and co-founder of Making Every Vote Count, explained in February that changing state demographics are playing a huge role in the new resistance to the Electoral College.
He said, "This is a new American demographic, which shows that the electoral system of the 18th century doesn’t work anymore. No one at the time the Constitution was written thought that 80 percent of the population would be irrelevant.”
Last May, Connecticut joined the states pledging their Electoral College votes to the popular vote winner. Per USA Today, Gov. Dannel Malloy said,
The vote of every American citizen should count equally, yet under the current system, voters from sparsely populated states are awarded significantly more power than those from states like Connecticut. This is fundamentally unfair. The National Popular Vote compact will ensure an equal vote for every American citizen, regardless of which state they happen to live in.
On March 14, the Delaware House voted 24-17 in favor of giving its Electoral College votes to the popular vote winner, per WHYY, a public media organization in the Philadelphia/Delaware area.
One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. David Bentz, said at the time, per WHYY,
Delaware is seen as this true blue state. And if you’re a Republican voter what is your motivation to vote? Because you know at the end of the day Delaware’s three electoral votes will go to that Democrat. If you’re a democrat maybe you’re not motivated either because you know you don’t have to.
Hawaii isn't just one of the states that has agreed to give its Electoral College votes to the popular vote winner. One of its U.S. senators, Brian Schatz, has also introduced a constitutional amendment to end the Electoral College altogether.
Schatz was one of the people to introduce the bill on April 2, saying in a statement, “No one’s vote should count for more based on where they live. The Electoral College is outdated and it’s undemocratic. It’s time to end it.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, one of Illinois' U.S. senators, joined Schatz as one of the sponsors of the bill that would abolish the Electoral College once and for all, via a Constitutional amendment.
In a statement, Durbin said on April 2, via The State-Journal Register, "The Electoral College is a relic from a shameful period in our nation’s history, and allows some votes to carry greater weight than others. A handful of states now determine the leader for all 50 states, regardless of each candidate’s final vote tally.”
Maryland was the first state to pass the National Popular Vote bill in 2007. Then, in February, state Sen. Bill Ferguson introduced an additional bill, which would give Maryland's 10 Electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, not the state's popular vote winner — but only if a red state with the same number of votes agreed to do the same, per The Baltimore Sun. The bill was given an unfavorable report and didn't pass.
In 2010, Massachusett's governor, Deval Patrick, signed the National Popular Vote bill, becoming the sixth state to do so. This came after the state Senate voted to pass it 28-9.
New Jersey was the second state to forsake the Electoral College and sign the National Popular Vote Bill in 2008. The enactment of the legislation took place just under two years after the multi-state movement was first announced in a press conference.
On April 4, New Mexico became the 14th state, along with D.C., to sign onto the compact agreeing to give up its electoral votes in the name of the popular vote. That brought the Electoral count up to 189 votes, with all of the states in the compact thus far.
New York has the third most electors of any state, with 29 individuals representing the state in the Electoral College. On Nov 7, 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed New York's approval of the popular vote compact, saying in part, "This action will help ensure every vote is treated equally and places New York at the forefront of the battle for fairer elections and strengthen our democracy."
Rhode Island decided to support signing away its electors to the winner of the popular vote in 2013. The bill was approved in the Rhode Island House by a 48-21 margin, per National Popular Vote's database.
In April, 2011, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the National Popular Vote Bill into law. This made Vermont the eighth state to do so. Though Sen. Bernie Sanders was not involved in the signing, the presidential candidate has been outspoken in his critcism of the Electoral College, tweeting on Dec. 19, 2016, "Trump received 2.5 million fewer votes than Clinton, yet he'll soon be president. Clearly, in a democratic society, this shouldn't happen."
Sanders added in a subsequent tweet, "We need to change the electoral college."
Washington was the fifth state to enact the National Popular Vote bill in 2009. Per National Popular Vote, a survey of 800 voters in the state revealed 77 percent approval of this measure.
While states are signing onto this compact, some U.S. senators are working to attack the Electoral College from the federal level, as well. On April 2, Sen. Brian Schatz introduced a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College and allow the president to be elected by popular vote. Per CNN, the bill was supported by Sens. Dick Durbin, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Dianne Feinstein, among others.
If you want to learn more about which states haven't signed onto the compact, and what the progress of the movement is, you can check out the National Popular Vote site. You can also contact your legislators if you think your state should sign onto the compact, too.