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Robert Longley

State Governments Could Bypass Electoral College

By February 27, 2007

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The Electoral College system, always a hard sell in a land where "the majority rules," comes under even greater attack after election years like 2000, when election-loser Al Gore got more popular votes than election-winner George Bush. But that's all chads under the bridge now, and the vision of the Founding Fathers, the Electoral College system, will live on, right? Maybe not. It is, after all, up to the states.

A bill now being considered by several state legislatures would, without doing away with the system, essentially bypass the Electoral College to ensure that future presidential candidates who receive the most popular votes nationwide will win the presidency.

States enacting the National Popular Vote bill would agree to band together and award all of their electoral votes to which ever presidential candidate wins the nationwide popular vote. The bill would become effective when enacted, in identical form, by states controlling a majority of the electoral votes needed to elect the president, currently 270 of 538 electoral votes. [Votes by state]

Can they do that?
The National Popular Vote bill is absolutely constitutional. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution grants the states the exclusive power to determine how their electoral votes will be awarded, and to change their laws concerning their electoral votes at any time. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional power of the states to control their electoral votes under Article II, Section 1, to be "plenary," or complete.

Since it would not require the time consuming and probably unsuccessful process of amending the Constitution, the National Popular Vote bill would take effect as soon as 270 electoral votes-worth of states have enacted it, possibly in time for the 2008 presidential election.

Also See:
About the Electoral College System
Electoral College Not the Founders' First Choice
Electoral College: How to Lose But Win an Election
State Legislatures Promote 2008 Primary Shuffle (US Politics)


March 5, 2007 at 3:22 pm
(1) Catharine says:

Great news! A much better idea than dividing a state’s electoral votes between the two candidates, which could cause trouble.

March 6, 2007 at 12:59 pm
(2) Paul K says:

This would be a very bad idea. Imagine a close popular vote…even closer than 2000 (let’s face it, that’s the only type of election we are talking about.)

Let each congressional district have one electoral vote for its popular winner and then the state popular winner gets two more electoral votes.

The National Popular vote is collusion at its worst.

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