California Senators Jerry Hill and Ben Allen introduced a joint resolution Wednesday calling upon other states to pass National Popular Vote (NPV) legislation to ensure that electoral votes for the president of the United States reflect the will of American voters.
“National Popular Vote legislation guarantees that each vote Americans cast in a presidential election counts equally — it ensures that the leader of our country holds our highest office as a result of winning the national popular vote of the American people,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.
“The Electoral College is an undemocratic anachronism that was intended to pacify slave states during the constitutional debates,” said Senator Allen (D-Santa Monica). “It was created at a time when it was simply too radical for the people to directly elect their president. Our democracy needs to evolve to reflect modern values and population changes. If we can’t repeal the Electoral College outright, we need the NPV law in enough states to render it meaningless.”
National Popular Vote legislation commits a state to abide by an interstate compact to award the electoral votes of that state to the presidential slate winning the most votes nationwide.
In contrast, in most states, all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the presidential slate that wins in that state. The state-by-state, winner-take-all practice now prevailing in the Electoral College makes it possible for a candidate to lose the national popular vote, yet win enough electoral votes to become president – as happened this year and in the presidential elections of 2000, 1888 and 1876.
California, nine other states and the District of Columbia have already adopted National Popular Vote legislation. California adopted the legislation in 2011 with the passage of Assembly Bill 459, authored by then-Assemblymember Hill. The other states that have adopted the legislation are Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The National Popular Vote interstate compact would prevail when states possessing a majority of the total possible electoral votes, currently 270 of 538, have adopted such legislation and ratified the compact. The District of Columbia and the 10 states that already have passed National Popular Vote legislation account for 165 electoral votes.
Joint resolutions require the approval of the Senate and the Assembly, but do not require approval by the governor.
If Senate Joint Resolution 3 is passed by both houses, it will be sent to the majority and minority leaders in each house of every state legislature in the country and to each governor.