Huge credit to National Popular Vote, Inc., the non-profit that has pushed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact slowly but steadily for more than a decade, marching through states one by one. With the addition of Colorado’s nine electoral votes, the Compact is now two-thirds of the way to its goal—a fantastic achievement.
So where do we go from here?
Based on public statements from its leaders, NPV Inc. does not think that it is likely that it will be able to achieve its reform in time for the 2020 election. But why wait? It's a good idea that is long overdue.
Democratic governors hold office in 14 states that have not passed the Compact: in descending order of electors, PA 20, MI 16, NC 15, VA 13, MN 10, WI 10, LA 8, OR 7, KS 6, NV 6, NM 5, ME 4, DE 3, MT 3. Assuming that as with other states that enacted the Compact, a Democratic governor would sign, then in all these state legislatures NPV Inc. should find legislators who will introduce and advocate for the Compact. Is NPV Inc. pushing hard for legislation in all of those states?
So far, only blue states have joined the Compact. It would be terrific, arguably vital, to include Republican-leaning states in this reform. One way is the ingenious idea initiated by Maryland state senator Bill Ferguson. Maryland would award its electors to the national popular vote winner if a Republican-voting state with the same or more electors took the same action, effective for 2020, even if the Compact is not in effect by then. Maryland still would stay bound to the Compact, but this move would put to the Republican governor of the state, Larry Hogan, a pro-democracy initiative that presumably he would support. He then could find a Republican governor in a Republican-leaning state who would join him in creating a prize of electors available to the candidate who wins the national vote.
Possibly neither major party candidate would think the prize big enough to campaign nationally. But the idea alone is worthwhile because it would be the first linkage of the national vote to an award of electors in the history of the United States. Perhaps more important, the Ferguson bill offers a Republican-leaning state a way to join hands with a Democratic-leaning state to move toward this reform. Although some of the representatives of NPV Inc. have been quoted in ways that suggest they don't expect Republican allies, it should be obvious that the goal of having the national vote pick the president ought to be discussed, debated, and embraced by most Americans in all states. Indeed, some prominent Republicans have recently come forward in support of reform because it’s the right thing for the country, regardless of party. Republicans should be part of such an important step forward for democracy.