Why Equal Votes And The National Popular Vote Work Well Together

Jason Harrow @ Medium Sep 29, 2017

On September 22, Equal Citizens founder Lawrence Lessig went on Reddit “Ask Me Anything” to answer questions about our Equal Votes project. He received several questions about how the Equal Votes lawsuits can coexist with the National Popular Vote Initiative, which is a state-level legislative effort to try and create a system where the winner of the popular vote always prevails in the Electoral College. As Lessig said in the AMA, he supports both this ongoing legislative effort and the Equal Votes Project because both efforts are “pressing the same value, and helping to build the movement to bring it about.” In this post, I want to explain in more detail why the National Popular Vote project and Equal Votes go particularly well together.

It’s helpful to start with a bit of background. The National Popular Vote bill is a model law that any state can adopt that awards all of a state’s electors to the winner of the national popular vote, instead of the state popular vote. But instead of oddly skewing the results right now, the law only takes effect when enough states pass this law to ensure that the winner of the national popular vote is also the winner in the Electoral College. In other words, the bill creates a bloc of states that promise to vote together for the national popular vote winner, but they will only do this once this bloc is strong enough to guarantee the correct outcome. It’s a very clever and creative way to implement a national popular vote while maintaining the framework of the Electoral College.

Right now, 11 states with 165 electoral votes have passed the bill into law. In order to become effective, though, it will need to be passed in states with 105 more electoral votes. Without those additional electoral votes, the bill changes nothing about the way electors are allocated, because the bloc of national popular vote states is too small to guarantee that the popular vote winner will be elected president.

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