Getting Rid of the Electoral College Without A Constitutional Change

Martha Biondi in In These Times:

A Stanford University computer scientist named John Koza has formulated a compelling and pragmatic alternative to the Electoral College. It’s called National Popular Vote (NPV), and has been hailed as “ingenious” by two New York Times editorials. In April, Maryland became the first state to pass it into law. And several other states, including Illinois and New Jersey, are likely to follow suit.

How NPV works is this: Instead of a state awarding its electors to the top vote-getter in that state’s winner-take-all presidential election, the state would give its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. This would be perfectly legal because the U.S. Constitution grants states the right to determine how to cast their electoral votes, so no congressional or federal approval would be required. NPV could go into effect nationwide as soon as enough states pass it (enough states to tally 270 electoral votes—the magic number needed to elect a president). In 2008, NPV bills are expected to be introduced in all 50 states.

“We’ll have it by 2012,” says Robert Richie, executive director of the reform group Fair Vote.