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With Democrats having suffered presidential election losses despite winning the popular vote in 2000 and 2016, an effort to bypass the Electoral College has been picking up momentum in blue states. Eleven that have consistently voted for the Democratic candidate in recent presidential elections, including California, Massachusetts and New York, have now signed onto the national popular vote interstate compact, which would award all the electoral votes of the signatory states when there are enough of those states to constitute a majority of the Electoral College, currently 270 votes.
But last month lawmakers in the less solidly blue state of Colorado passed a bill, SB 42, adopting the popular vote compact, which Gov. Jared Polis (D) said he would sign.
“I’ve long supported electing the president by who gets the most votes,” he said.
Colorado state Rep. Emily Sirota (D), one of SB 42’s sponsors, said she views the compact as a way to get candidates to campaign nationwide instead of in just a few battleground states that are key to an Electoral College victory.
“If we had presidential candidates campaigning across the country, instead of a handful of swing states, you’d see a lot more participation from across the country and I think that is good and healthy for our electoral process,” she said.
Advocates are hopeful Colorado’s action will spur other states to join the compact. Sixteen others, including Democrat-governed Delaware, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon, have introduced legislation this session to do so, according to National Popular Vote, the group that proposed the interstate compact.
But with the compact’s electoral vote tally, including Colorado, standing at 181, it seems unlikely to reach the 270-vote threshold before the 2020 election. Some of the 16 states that have introduced popular vote bills are under split-party control, while others are deep red and likely to resist any effort that might favor candidates able to draw support from large urban areas that tend to vote Democratic over those more reliant on rural areas that generally vote Republican.
Still, John Koza, chairman of the National Popular Vote, said it was “theoretically” possible to get to 270 electoral votes by the end of next year.
“You never know how a bandwagon can get rolling,” he said.
He added that it seemed “perfectly plausible that we should get there by 2024.” (HILL, NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE)