Five times in U.S. history, the winner of the popular vote has lost the presidency, most recently in 2000 and 2016. Current voter frustration with the electoral college has resulted in the formation of the National Popular Vote 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 our 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 NPV organization.
In 2007, 42 states introduced National Popular vote (NPV) legislation; Maryland was the first 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 in those states. None have joined since 2014 but there is a strong renewed momentum after the Trump election. 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 NPV bill has been 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 floor. 2017 there were 5 NPV bills passed and HB 2927 is the one that is moving through right now. It has recently passed the House Rules Committee and, after a committee vote, will go to the full floor for a vote and then onto the Senate.
Elizabeth Donley and Eileen Reavey are leaders in Oregon’s grassroots efforts to get the NPVIC bill passed this year and have been working with the national National Popular Vote Organization, Daily Kos, Common Cause, League of Women Voters, Bus Project, and other allied groups and volunteers. They will explain in depth what the NPV 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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