Making the Popular Vote Count

Polls show 70 percent of voters favor a nationwide popular vote for president.

This election was the second time in 20 years that the candidate who got the most votes failed to win the presidency, but a bill that has passed in several states could change that. The U.S. Constitution said the states decide how to allocate their votes in the Electoral College. So far, 11 states including New York have passed bills that would assign their Electoral College votes based on the national vote tally.

Patrick Rosenstiel, a senior consultant to the group, National Popular Vote, said that would happen in any presidential election year in which 270 or more Electoral College votes are from states that have that law on their books.

“And those states award all of their electors en bloc to the candidate who gets the most popular vote in all 50 states, which is the best way, the Constitutionally-appropriate way, to make this change,” he explained.

States that already have passed the bill control 165 electoral votes. The bill also has passed in at least one chamber of several other legislatures, in states totaling an additional 96 electoral votes.

Effect on presidential campaign

The bill would have another impact as well. Now, presidential campaigns focus on appealing to voters in swing states. According to Rosenstiel, this year 94 percent of campaign events happened in just 12 states, and more than half in only four.

“A national popular-vote election would force candidates to campaign in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, because the candidate who gets the most votes would be guaranteed the presidency,” he said.

Rosenstiel said the bill has now been introduced in all 50 states and has broad, bipartisan support.

And he pointed out that in polls across the country, 70 percent of voters favored a nationwide vote for president.

“We’re increasingly confident that the 2020 presidential election will be run under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact,” he added. “And we believe that’s going to be in the best interests of the country, and the best interests of the body politic.”

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