JP Observer: MA + 14 other states support National Popular Vote; more states needed

If things go well in the next two years, Massachusetts electors will vote for whomever wins the national popular vote for president on Nov. 5, 2024. And the United States would be guaranteed for the first time that its president got the majority of votes.

No more giving all 11 of our electors’ votes to whomever wins the popular vote in Massachusetts alone. Instead, our electors would be pledged to give their votes in the Electoral College to whomever wins the national popular vote.

The Massachusetts legislature passed a bill to sign onto what’s called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPV for short) in 2010.

Under the NPV, 270 or more electors—the majority of the 538 total U.S. electors—would cast their ballots for the person who wins the national popular vote. That winner would be sworn in as president in January, 2025.

Bit by bit, 15 states joined the compact over the years. Included so far are: Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, California, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, New Mexico, Oregon, and the District of Columbia.

The pledge that electors vote for the national popular vote winner will take effect after enough states sign up to equal 270 or more electors; the number now is 195. Only 75 more electors are needed from a combination of states to ensure that the nation’s favorite candidate wins the presidency.

Massachusetts voters who want a popularly elected president need to reach out to friends, family, and colleagues in other states. Advocacy organizations called Abolish the Electoral College PAC and People’s Choice for President could use our help and support with their efforts to recruit enough other states through their legislatures. 

The Constitution says each state must decide how it chooses its electors, and that’s what would continue to happen under NPV—without abolishing the Electoral College. Turns out abolishing the worst effects of the Electoral College is quite possible without removing it from or otherwise changing the Constitution.

The results of this revised, sensible system would a create a revolution in favor of democracy when it comes to how we choose our country’s leader for the following four years. 

Majority would rule. Whoever gets the most votes from the American people would win the presidency. Twice this century and five times in the country’s history we have had a president that a majority of Americans did not choose.

Despite winning the popular vote by more than 7 million ballots, Joe Biden still nearly lost the Electoral College and the presidency in 2020. Hillary Clinton got 2 million more votes than Trump, yet she lost the Electoral College. In 2000, Al Gore got half a million more popular votes than Electoral College “winner” George W. Bush. 

The American people would finally benefit from the principle of one-person, one vote for president. The national final vote tally, in the millions, would be the only numbers to count to determine who becomes commander in chief.

As of now, votes for the losing candidate(s) within most states are not represented in the Electoral College. It’s winner-take-all—but only within the 48 states that have chosen that system of allotting electors to candidates, not nationally. (Maine and Nebraska are the only states that still apportion their electors among those two states’ winning and losing candidates.)

With NPV, we would have a real winner-take-all result, where the winner of the popular vote across the country would become the next president, and everybody would know that before they cast their ballots.

The awkward system of totaling the number of senators and representatives for each state to determine the number of that state’s electors wouldn’t matter anymore.

The current strange discrepancies in voting power would no longer occur. For example, poor California has only one electoral vote per 712,000 people, and super-empowered Wyoming has one vote per only 195,000 people in the current system.

New York, Texas, and Florida are also under-represented in the Electoral College compared to some less populated states.

In the revised system, each state would contribute the same number of votes nationally as it has voters in that presidential election. When the Electoral College meets,

all the electors from states that signed the compact would go to whomever won the national popular vote. 

  The NPV would also soften the current superpowers of “swing” or “battleground” states—those where it’s thought that either major party’s candidate could win and get all the electoral votes from that state. Under NPV, more states would get campaign visits from candidates, ads, and other attention from them, too.

Our presidents would be more respected here and in other countries after NPV takes effect. Presidents who didn’t win the popular vote are not as credible to many as those who won the most popular votes. No other democracy has something like the Electoral College to select their leader

The phrase “Every vote counts”—often said to encourage voting—would finally be true in our presidential race. Now, this democratic principle is followed in state and local elections, of course, but not nationally for president. With NPV, all votes cast in all states would count to determine who the president will be.

Votes on NPV in eight more states (68 total electors) are pending. Advocates will have to persuade an additional state or states that provide the necessary additional 7 electors to get to the majority of 270.

Many of the bills at state houses that would commit the state to the Interstate Compact did not pass the first time they were introduced. Massachusetts legislation to join the compact failed in 2007, but passed in 2010.

Although revising the electoral vote process has been favored by the majority of Americans in the past, Republicans are mostly against it nowadays for obvious reasons. 

Two of our Republican presidents in the past 20 years took office after losing the national popular vote. There are more registered Democrats (48 million plus) than Republicans (35 million plus) in this country and it has been similar for decades.

Some Republicans offer other “reasons” than fear of losing to oppose majority rule. Most of what opponents of NPV say is either hyperbole or just plain not based in fact. Advocacy group “Save Our States,” founded “to protect the Electoral College from the NPV plan,” says on its website that states would lose their voices in elections, and it would “create instability,” without say exactly how or why.

Others have said NPV would give cities more power than rural areas. Huh? Cities have more voters, of course. Just like in state elections for governor and other state offices.

Brookings Institution, after doing extensive research, came out in support of NPV a few years ago, writing, “If the Electoral College system begins to prevent, on a regular basis, the popular vote winner from becoming president, it will create systemic challenges. Faith in elections, trust in government, and the legitimacy of elected officials and the offices they hold will be challenged by a system that consistently turns its back on the will of the voters.”

For more information on NPV and/or how to get involved, see the Brookings articles and advocacy websites on the internet.

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