Bill Gives Electoral College Votes to Winner of Popular Vote

As the Electoral College meets in the state capitals across the country today, there’s been a lot of discussion about how Donald Trump will win despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. There’s some discussion about how the contradicts the will of the people and what should be done to address the issue.

One potential option is to do away with the Electoral College altogether, but that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. Another potential option — one that’s already gained some traction — is to have states pass legislation that would require their electors to vote for whoever won the national vote. Bills like this have already passed in 11 states, including DC (CA, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA) and it appears as though more states are looking to join in.

Here in Virginia, Del. Marcus Simon has introduced legislation (HB 1482) that would have Virginia adopt this policy. While the policy will be voted on in the upcoming session of the General Assembly, it worded in a way that would have it go “into effect when states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have joined the compact.”

As of right now, all of the legislation’s co-sponsors are Democrats and many of them are among the legislature’s more progressive wing. While there might be more discussion on the issue before the General Assembly convenes in January, I haven’t heard of any Republicans who are willing to step forward and co-sponsor the legislation.

This shouldn’t be too surprising since legislation introduced by Sen. Yvonne Miller back in 2009 (SB 824) never even made it out of the Committee on Privileges and Elections. That bill’s introduction, however, makes it clear its sponsors believe it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Barack Obama, after all, had just won an overwhelming victory in both the Electoral College and the popular vote when Sen. Miller introduced the legislation. Plus, it was the first time Virginia had gone for a Democrat in decades.

Considering the bill’s fate in previous legislative sessions and the lack of Republican support, the legislation’s unlikely to pass a GOP controlled legislature — if it even gets a vote. Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see if Marcus Simon or any of the other co-sponsors make comments about the feedback their receiving about the idea.

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