The Oregon legislature this week approved joining the National Popular Vote interstate compact, which would ensure that whichever candidate receives the most votes in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia would become president. Governor Kate Brown has indicated she will sign the bill.
Fifteen other states have already ratified the plan, which will go into effect once states that comprise a total of 270 electoral votes have entered into the legally binding agreement. The states already in the plan to date control 189 electoral votes, or 81 shy of the level needed for implementation. When Oregon joins, the plan will need 74 additional electoral votes in order to go into effect.
Enactment of the National Popular Vote pact, which could happen prior to the 2020 election, would shift power from so-called swing states such as Florida and Ohio and encourage candidates to also seek votes in traditionally "safe" states such as Kansas or Vermont. Every additional vote would count equally, no matter which state it was cast in. Support of the plan in low population, rural states like Maine is a reminder that the current system advantages swing states far more than small states.
Five out of the 45 presidential elections held since the creation of the Electoral College have been won by a candidate who lost the national popular vote due primarily to the “winner-take-all” rule, which was not in the Constitution but has evolved over time. Under winner-take-all, a candidate receives 100% of a state’s electoral votes even if they win just 51% of the vote in that state. The National Popular Vote compact would bind state electors to support whichever candidate received the most votes nationwide, thus guaranteeing that candidate at least 270 electoral votes and the White House.