Five times in U.S. history, most recently in 2000 and 2016, the winner of the popular vote has lost the presidency. Current voter frustration with the Electoral College has resulted in the formation of an organization in 2006 to promote reform legislation, known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC).
It is an agreement among states that would reform the electoral system by awarding the U.S. Presidency to the winner of the national popular vote. John Koza, a computer science professor at Stanford, is the originator of the legislation and a founding member of the NPVIC organization.
In 2007, 42 states introduced NPVIC legislation. Maryland was the first state to join the Compact. In the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014, ten states plus the District of Columbia joined the Compact for a combined total of 165 electoral votes. In other words, those states have pledged that all their electoral votes would support whoever wins the popular vote for U.S. President in those states. No other states have joined since 2014, but there is a strong renewed momentum after the election of Trump. Once enough states join the Compact to equal a pledged total of 270 electoral votes, it will go into effect, just as 270 pledged Electoral College votes would now elect the President.
In Oregon, an NPVIC bill was introduced in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. It passed the House in 2009, 2013 and 2015. All three times it died in the Senate because Senate President Peter Courtney would not allow a vote on the Senate floor. In the current 2017 Oregon Legislature there were five NPVIC bills introduced. HB 2927 is the bill that is still alive in the 2017 Legislature. The House passed HB 2927 with 34 yes votes, 23 no votes. As of May 30th, the bill is in Senate Rules Committee. Once again, Senate President Peter Courtney appears to be obstructing this bill being considered by the full Senate. Will he allow Senator Gunny Burdick, Senate Rules Chair, to hold public hearings and move the bill out of Senate Rules Committee for a vote on the Senate floor? Will he block it again?
Elizabeth Donley and Eileen Reavey are leaders in Oregon’s grassroots efforts to get the NPVIC bill passed this year in the Oregon legislature. They have been working with the nationwide organization, National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC); Daily Kos; Common Cause; League of Women Voters; Bus Project, and other allied groups and volunteers. They will explain in depth what the national popular vote is, why it is needed, and why it is a logical, constitutional way to reform our archaic Electoral College system. They will also cover common myths and misconceptions about our electoral system and about the national popular vote.
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