Oregon governor Kate Brown has signed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact into law, making Oregon the 16th jurisdiction to join the agreement that will guarantee that the winner of the popular vote will also win the electoral college.
The Constitution gives each state the power to award its electoral college votes as it sees fit. Right now, all states give their electoral votes to the plurality winner of that state (except Nebraska and Maine). However, under the Compact, each member state will give its votes to the winner of the national popular vote.
The Compact will not go into effect until states with 270 total electoral votes join—the number needed to secure a majority of electoral college votes. Accordingly, the states will not award their electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote until there are enough electoral votes pledged to guarantee the winner of the national popular vote becomes president.
Right now, the Compact has 196 votes committed, including Oregon. In order to reach 270, there will have to be a massive public education campaign to show voters that this issue is bigger than partisan politics. The fact that almost every state gives its votes to the plurality winner has serious consequences, including:
disproportionate attention to swing states (both during and after elections), meaning that those states get more disaster relief funding, money for special projects, and more attention to industries concentrated in those states;
threats to our national security due the small number of states a foreign hacker can target to change the outcome of the election;
the fact that the winner of the election may not be the person who got the most votes—an outcome that we will see more and more.
The electoral college will sometimes favor Democrats and sometimes Republicans, but in the long run, everyone will be better off if Americans can choose their leader directly, and every person’s vote counts equally.