Checking: How it would work

Once enough of the remaining states will have enacted the National Popular Vote bill into law to reach the required national threshold of at least 270 electoral votes, in the subsequent presidential elections all of the electoral votes from the enacting states and the District of Columbia will be awarded to the presidential candidate who received the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


Having the National Popular Vote-enacting jurisdictions award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who received the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is neither revolutionary nor unconstitutional. Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution explicitly places the decisions for electing the U.S. president in the hands of the states. It was state-based decision-making by which the states adopted the winner-take-all method of counting popular votes during the 1800s, and it was state-based decision-making by which Maine and Nebraska switched away from the winner-take-all rule and instead chose district-based approaches in 1969 and 1992, respectively.

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The election process as such can be a bit tricky to understand because of the difference between electoral votes and popular votes, so let's break it down into steps:

  • Step 1: Under the National Popular Vote, voters from all 50 states and the District of Columbia vote for the U.S. president on election day in early November (or earlier) as they currently do. Hopefully this will be in 2020 (or 2024) with YOUR support.
  • Step 2: The popular votes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia are counted as usual but with a special eye on the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia rather by state-based winner-take-all  method.
  • Step 3: Just as under the current system, the Electoral College's electors meet in their respective state capitals (electors for the District of Columbia meet within the District) on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December to cast their electoral votes. But this time, and here is where the difference lies, the electors of the National Popular Vote-enacting jurisdictions award all of their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who received the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, which automatically makes this candidate the official president-elect in direct reflection of the total number of popular votes the candidate received across the land.

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Checking the math for Step 3

The Electoral College currently consists of 538 electoral votes, so the majority electoral vote count for becoming U.S. president is derived by dividing 538 by two, which yields 269, and then adding 1 to reach the minimum majority of 270. (This electoral vote majority is what currently gives the winner-take-all states their power to elect the U.S. presidents. Alternatively, the National Popular Vote bill so far has been enacted by 11 states and the District of Columbia for a total of 172 electoral votes.)


For background: The 538 electors in the Electoral College correspond to the number of seats held by states in the U.S. Senate and House, plus the three votes allotted to Washington, DC. Presently, there are 435 representatives in the House of Representatives and 100 Senators in the Senate, which means that we arrive at 538 electoral votes by adding 435 + 100 + 3 for DC.