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National Popular Vote versus Electoral College

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Some states have passed laws which by-pass the Electoral College system of electing the President of the United States, in place since the founding of the country. Proponents of the national popular votes believe the current Electoral College system to be confusing, outdated, and causing the candidates to focus on a few contested states.

Proponents for National Popular Vote

With national popular vote in play, the candidates would campaign every voter, no matter where they lived. Massachusetts passed such a law in July and sent the new law to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Governor Patrick has said he supports the bill. Under the new law, all 12 of the state’s electoral votes go to the candidate receiving the most votes nationally.

Proponents for the national popular vote have campaigned within each state to get bills enacted. When enough states have enacted the laws to account for a majority of the electoral votes (270 of 538 votes), the candidate winning the most votes nationally secures a majority of Electoral College votes.

The six states (presuming Massachusetts included), which now award their electoral votes to the popular vote candidate are:

  • Hawaii – 4 votes
  • Illinois – 21 votes
  • Maryland – 10 votes
  • Massachusetts – 12 votes
  • New Jersey – 15 votes
  • Washington – 11

These six states account for 73 of the 270 necessary votes to elect a president. When enough states adopt the national popular vote theory, then it supersedes the Electoral College system.

Proponents for the Electoral College System

After the Presidential election of 1800, the transfer of authority from one party to another was done without violence and bloodshed. For the first time in history, a transfer occurred peacefully, without disturbance or chaos. Proponents consider the Electoral College vital to holding a legitimate presidential election. The winner of the Electoral College is normally viewed as the legitimate winner of the office, rather than support from a slim majority, or simply a plurality.

The Electoral College gives voice to every part of the United States, urban and rural, large and small. In a national popular vote system, the urban areas and large states (mostly democratic) would rule all national elections. The Electoral College constitutionally allows every state a voice in the election, with the candidate winning the popular vote in any particular state receiving the electors from that state. Nebraska and Maine split electors according to percentages of vote for candidates in their state.


Without the Electoral College, states such as California, New York, Ohio and Texas can elect the president without the inclusion of smaller populated states. Proponents of the Electoral College accuse the Democratic party of trying to use the national popular vote to eliminate any candidate other than a Democrat from ever winning a Presidential election.

The U. S. National Archives and Records Administration Federal Register web site has significant information about the current Electoral College, contacts by state, as well as interesting polls and prediction maps for the 2020 November elections.

Whether one believes the Electoral College should be replaced or not, apparently it will take a long time to change the original system for presidential elections.


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