Electoral College map of the U.S. from the 2020 election.

The Pew Research Center (Aug. 5) reported that support for electing the president by national popular vote is increasing among all voters, regardless of party, ideology, or age. In fact, 63% of voters say we should change the current system so the candidate who receives the most nationwide votes wins. (And Pew reports over 50% supporting a national vote since at least 2000.) This is the essence of one person-one vote, the core belief in our democracy.

Yet the Electoral College methodology used in most states defeats our conviction in one person-one vote: the winner of the popular vote may not secure enough electoral votes to win the presidency. This occurred with 5 of our 46 presidents, the most recent in 2000 and 2016. And there have been two near misses, in 2004 and 2020. With the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, we can change the current system relatively quickly, so that by 2028 all of our votes will count and the winner of the nationwide popular vote will always win the presidency.

Currently, we don’t really have a single presidential election, we have 51 (each state plus D.C.) When the victor in each state election is called, he or she gets all of that state’s electoral votes, regardless of who wins nationwide. Those who voted for the second-place candidate in each state essentially have their votes discarded once the state’s tally is completed, as all of the state’s electors must vote in the Electoral College election for their state winner.

This “state-winner take all” method is used in all states and D.C., except for Nebraska and Maine. It is not mandated by the Constitution, which allows States to determine how their electors are appointed. “State-winner take all” can lead to a divergent election — the popular vote winner losing the presidency.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is the solution.

The compact is an agreement between the states to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote nationwide. The compact ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election. Because the agreement employs the Electoral College process set forth in the U.S. Constitution, no Constitutional amendment, and thus no lengthy political process, is required.

The compact will go into effect when states representing at least 270 (the majority) electoral votes adopt the legislation. With 270 electoral votes committed to the winner of the nationwide popular vote, the popular vote winner and the electoral college winner are identical.

Currently, 15 states and D.C. have adopted legislation to join the Compact. Together, they represent 195 electoral votes. Only 75 more are needed.

Illinois passed the law in 2008, so we can use our efforts and resources to educate and help our neighbor states get the billed passed. With 63% of Americans in favor, we can do it. We must do it to preserve our democracy.

Barbara Paterick is a new resident of Oak Park and a grassroots volunteer with nationalpopularvote.com, who works with the League of Women Voters on promoting their position supporting the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact as one acceptable way to achieve the goal of the direct popular vote for election of the president.

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