Colorado has become the latest state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a coalition of states hoping the popular vote decides the 2020 election. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law Friday that, if enough states commit to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, would award all of Colorado's electoral college votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote.
With Polis' signature now on Colorado Senate Bill 19-042, Colorado is the 12th state to sign on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, joining California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington state. Washington, D.C. has also signed on.
But neither Colorado nor any of the other 11 states on the compact will be handing their electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote just yet. According to the nonprofit corporation championing the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, legislation such as that signed into law in Colorado on Friday will only take effect when enough states have signed on. With Colorado's nine electoral votes, the compact currently has 181 electoral votes in total. It needs a collective 270 electoral votes — essentially the number of votes a candidate needs to snag the presidency — to take effect.
But according to The Washington Post, advocates of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact may find the road to 270 electoral votes increasingly difficult as states with Republican-controlled legislative bodies have yet to warm to the idea. Indeed, Making Every Vote Count Co-founder and Chairman Reed Hundt told The Post that the remaining states where legislation regarding the compact had the potential to pass were small, meaning they might not bring a large number of electoral votes to the table.
That being said, New Mexico may become the 13th state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Legislation tying the state's five electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote was passed by both the state's Senate and House of Representatives earlier this year and sent to the governor for a signature. If signed, New Mexico would bring the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact's collective electoral votes to 186, leaving it 84 electoral votes shy.
The Constitution gives states the ability to establish their own rules for how their electoral votes are awarded in presidential elections. While a majority of the states employ winner-take-all systems, which see all of a state's electoral votes given to the candidate that secures the state's popular vote, two states employ an alternative system.
Known as the Congressional District Method, this system sees states split their electoral votes between candidates. According to FairVote, both Maine, which has four electoral votes, and Nebraska, which has five electoral votes, allocate two of their electoral votes to the candidate that wins the state's popular vote. One electoral vote is then awarded to the popular vote winner in each of the state's congressional districts.
However, until the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact garners the 270 required electoral votes, Colorado will continue to allocate its electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the state's popular vote.