The National Popular Vote bill will
- guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,
- make every vote equal, and assure one-person-one-vote, and
- give presidential candidates a reason to campaign throughout the United States, instead of in just a dozen closely divided battleground states.
The bill passed the Virginia House of Delegates in early 2020. It will come up again in the January 2021 session of the Virginia legislature.
In the last six presidential elections, the current system has produced two near-misses and two second-place Presidents. For example, in 2020, if 21,461 votes (5,229 in Arizona, 5,890 in Georgia, and 10,342 in Wisconsin) had changed their minds, Joe Biden would have been defeated, despite leading the national popular vote by 7,059,800 votes. Each of these 21,461 voters was 329 times more important than the 7 million other voters. Similarly, in 2004, had 59,393 voters in Ohio switched, President Bush would have lost, despite leading the national popular vote by over 3 million votes.
Because outcomes are always close in about a dozen states, the current system had repeatedly created uncertainty, recounts, litigation, and chaos, despite the national popular vote winner being clear.
Since 2006, the National Popular Vote bill has been enacted by 15 states and the District of Columbia (together possessing 196 electoral votes), including 4 small states (DE, HI, RI, VT), 8 medium-sized states (CO, CT, MD, MA, NJ, NM, OR, WA), and 3 big states (CA, IL, NY). The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 74 more electoral votes (for a total of 270).
It has passed at least one legislative chamber in 9 additional states with 88 electoral votes (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK, VA), including the Republican-controlled Arizona House and Oklahoma Senate. 3,471 state legislators have endorsed it.
The shortcomings of the current system stem from state “winner-take-all” laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in each state.
The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. It was not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was used by only three states in the first presidential election in 1789 (and all three repealed it by 1800).
Because of these state winner-take-all laws, presidential candidates only pay attention to the concerns of voters in closely divided battleground states. In 2020, 2016, and 2012, a dozen battleground states received 96%, 94%, and 100% of all of the general-election campaign events, respectively. In these three elections, 25 states did not receive even one campaign event, and six additional states received only one. The politically irrelevant spectator states included almost all small states, rural states, agricultural states, Southern states, Western states, and Northeastern states.
Virginia is no longer a closely divided battelground state in presidential elections, and will probably be ignored in future presidential elections.