The Electoral College was in the news often during our recent voting cycle. It is an imperfect and complicated system that nearly broke under repeated anti-democratic attacks that still continue today. Reform is needed.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a nonpartisan solution that will solve this problem. This is an agreement among states to elect the president of the United States by a national popular vote that will accurately reflect the will of the majority of voters in the presidential election. It does not require a constitutional amendment. Instead, it requires the Electoral College to remain intact.
Once the compact is passed by states whose Electoral College votes total at least 270, every vote in every state will count toward the nationwide total. Voters who are registered with no party affiliation or with a third party will be just as valuable to every candidate as those who affiliate with a major party.
Currently 15 states and Washington, D.C., with a total of 196 electoral votes have already enacted the bill. Another nine states with a total of 84 electoral votes have passed the bill in at least one house of their legislature. When states totaling 270 electoral votes enact the bill, then the winner of the national popular vote and the winner of the Electoral College vote will always be the same person. Five times in U.S. history, that has not been the case.
In Florida, state Rep. Joe Geller has already introduced a bill in the House (HB 39) that has three co-sponsors. The bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate before the Legislature convenes in March.
Nationally, estimates show that at least 11 percent more people will vote if the compact is in place, because they understand that their vote truly matters, no matter where they live.
When the the compact is in force, electors in those states that do not adopt the national popular vote will continue to cast their Electoral College votes as their state legislature requires. However, because a majority of Electoral College votes will be cast for the candidate who wins the national popular vote, all votes in all states will count toward the national totals. Once every vote in every state and U.S. possession has been recorded, we will know who has been selected as president.
When presidential candidates know they need to win the popular vote — instead of winning a tiny margin of victory in a small handful of “battleground” states — it will force American politics back toward the center, where values such as collaboration, cooperation and compromise are both respected and practiced. Numerous nonpartisan national organizations support the bill precisely because they also support these values.
The Electoral College was created because our Founding Fathers had a difficult time making a decision on how to elect the president 233 years ago. Their compromise solution has failed us. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will strengthen voter confidence and give power back to the American people, which is why the Florida Legislature should adopt it.
Shirley Arcuri is Hillsborough County district chair, Cindy Donovan is Pasco County district chair, Marty Shapiro is South Pinellas County district chair and Ellen Siegman is North Pinellas County district chair for Floridians for the National Popular Vote.