Updated: Jul 18
Is there a way that the president of the US could get elected by popular vote?
Yeah, a crazy concept meaning that the candidate that gets the MOST votes wins!
Because in 2 of the last 6 elections, the winner of the popular vote did NOT become president.
YUP! 2000 and (OBVIOUSLY the one we ALL painfully remember…) 2016
As a naturalized citizen, one of the things that really struck me about the US’s political system was to learn that the president doesn’t get elected by winning the popular vote… but by the electoral college.
So you might be wondering… Is there a way to ELIMINATE the electoral college?
Not in the “traditional” way. That would imply an amendment to the Constitution, which that requires the votes of 2/3s of the House, 2/3s of the Senate, and 3/4ths of the states.
I know… you’re probably thinking “ESTA VIEJA ESTA ABSOLUTAMENTE LOCA”. It’s impossible!
Or… Is it?
Turns out there’s a way to do it and it’s called the National Popular vote Interstate Compact!
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement between a group of states in the US AND the District of Columbia to award all their electoral votes to the candidate that wins the NATIONAL popular vote.
Before I tell you more about the National Popular Vote interstate compact, I want to make sure You totally understand how the electoral college works.
The electoral college is a group of people who help elect the president and the vice president of the United States.
There are currently 538 electors.
So to win the election via the electoral college, a candidate would have to win more than half of those votes, right? And that magical number is… 270. (538/2 +1)
How do the states get electoral votes?
Well… that all has to do with the population. EVERY time the census happens, every 10 years, a state can gain or lose electoral votes.
The state with the most electoral votes is California, with 54. So if your candidate wins in California, they take ALL 54 electoral votes with them. That’s exactly 1/5th of the way to the magical 270!
In all states except Maine and Nebraska, we have this “winner-take-all” system where all the electoral votes go to the candidate with the most votes statewide.
Isn’t that crazy? So in 48 states, even if a candidate won with 51% of the votes, they take 100% of all the electoral college votes!
The six states with the most electors are California (54), Texas (40), Florida (30), New York (28), Illinois (19), and Pennsylvania (19).
If a candidate wins in these 6 states, they get a total of 190 electoral votes. Remember, they only need 270!
Let’s get a little bit more specific with the two biggest prizes in electoral votes: CA and Texas.
CA has 54 electoral votes, TX has 40.
There are over 22 M registered voters in CA and there are about 17 M registered voters in TX.
Using the same turnout percentages we saw in 2020, 80% of voters in CA decide to vote in one election. This means 17.6 M people will vote. Using a similar split to what we saw in the 2020 presidential election, where Biden got 64% of the California vote and Trump got 35%… then in this imaginary election 11M people will cast votes for the Democratic candidate and 6.6 M will vote for the Republican candidate in California. The Democratic candidate takes away those 54 electoral votes.
Using the same turnout percentages we saw in 2020, 67% of Texas registered voters cast a ballot in this election. That means we have about 11.3 M people voting.
But the split of the vote was a lot closer in Texas. Trump got 52% of the vote and Biden 47%.
So using that as an example, the Republican candidate gets 6M votes and the Democratic candidate gets 5.3M votes. Even though there was a difference of only 700,000 votes, the Republican candidate takes ALL 40 electoral votes for the state of Texas.
Let’s get back to the problem: HOW do we eliminate the electoral college? I mentioned earlier that doing so in the “traditional” way is honestly out of the question… but there’s another way!
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement between a group of states AND the District of Columbia to award all their electoral votes to the candidate that wins the national popular vote.
As of April 26, 2021, the bill has been enacted into law in 16 jurisdictions possessing 195 electoral votes.
It will take effect when enacted by states possessing an additional 75 electoral votes.
We are 72% of the way to the 270 votes needed for a candidate to win the election!
Visit www.nationalpopularvote.com to check if your state is one of them AND to contact your legislators and let them know you want them to pass national popular vote legislation!
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