Direct Voting

03.26.14

Could 2016 Be The Electoral College's Last Hurrah?

The progress of the National Popular Vote Compact, approved in New York Tuesday, could drastically change American presidential elections.

Imagine a presidential election without swing states and the obsession over places like Ohio and Florida. It could happen sooner than you think.

On Tuesday, the New York legislature approved a bill that would allow the Empire State to join the National Popular Vote Compact. The legislation, which still needs to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, would mandate that once states totaling 270 electoral votes join the compact, that all the states give their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who won the national popular vote---not the popular vote in their state. The result would be to effectively nullify the Electoral College without a constitutional amendment. 

Once the bill is signed and goes into law in New York, it means that 10 states plus the District of Columbia, totaling 165 electoral votes will have approved the compact and the list is likely to grow as it has already been approved by one legislative chamber this year in Oklahoma and is making progress towards passage in Connecticut.

There are still many obstacles left for the National Popular Vote Compact to reach 270 votes----the legislation so far has only come into law in Democratic leaning states and is still more than 100 electoral votes away from going into effect. And, even if it achieves that goal, it still faces an array of legal, practical and constitutional obstacles to be implemented.

But New York's passage shows the momentum for the legislative initiative, which has been slowly picking up support almost every year since Maryland was the first state to adopt it in 2007. If it continues at this rate, 2016 could be the last presidential election conducted on a state-by-state basis.