A new proposal led by a coalition of states aims to see that a national popular vote could come soon without the help of Congress. Recently some progress has been made as noted in the recent Ballot Access News article, “National Popular Vote Plan Bill Passes Rhode Island Legislature“. Take a look:
On June 13, the Rhode Island legislature passed SB 346/HB 5575, the National Popular Vote Plan bill. The plan had actually passed in the last session, but the Governor had vetoed it. Rhode Island’s current Governor, Lincoln Chafee, says he supports the Plan. Assuming it is signed into law in Rhode Island, the plan will have passed in ten jurisdictions. The others are California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington.
According to the National Popular Vote advocacy group the progress is even more remarkable:
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes—49% of the 270 necessary to activate it. The bill has passed a total of 31 legislative chambers in 21 jurisdictions. In the 47–13 vote in the Republican-controlled New York Senate, Republicans supported the bill 21–11, and Democrats supported it 26–2. The bill has been endorsed by 2,124 state legislators.
Here is more information about the proposals according to Every Vote Equal, another advocacy group behind the recent push:
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an agreement among various states and the District of Columbia to replace their current rules regarding the apportionment of presidential electors with rules guaranteeing the election of the candidate with the most popular votes in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Coming in the form of an interstate compact, the agreement goes into effect once law in states that together have an absolute majority of votes (at least 270) in the Electoral College. In the next presidential election, those states would award all their electoral votes to the national popular vote winner, who would become President by winning a majority of votes in the Electoral College. Until the compact’s conditions are met, all states will award electoral votes in their current manner.
As of May 2013, the compact has been joined by eight states and the District of Columbia (see map). Their 132 combined electoral votes amount to 24.5% of the Electoral College, and 49% of the 270 votes needed for the compact to go into effect. The compact is based on Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives each state legislature the right to decide how to appoint its own electors. States have chosen various methods of allocation over the years, with regular changes in the nation’s early decades. Today, all but two states (Maine and Nebraska) award all their electoral votes to the candidate with the most popular votes statewide.
Some remain resolutely opposed to the changes and few Republican dominated states have signed up. One article in the local Statesmen Journal that has successfully opposed the passage of the legislation in Oregon had the following criticism:
Consider a state whose elected officials are dominated by one party and whose political culture includes a willingness to subvert the electoral process. Now that state’s electoral votes go to the powerful party in that state, and no amount of electoral fraud would change that. Under the National Popular Vote bill, that state’s operatives would have every incentive to fraudulently increase the margin of votes for their candidate by 1 million or 2 million votes using any of several strategies, which could very easily swing the national popular vote.
Note that each state supervises its own election process; no federal standards are enforced. Note also that many states use machines with which a recount cannot recount individual votes and can only ask again what totals are registered in each machine.