Virginia’s plan to change how they give out their electoral votes in presidential elections seems dead for now, but don’t think for a moment that the plan is dead in general. Swing states with Republican legislatures, such as Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin, are all eyeing the same switcheroo that would make it a Herculean challenge for any Democrat to win the White House. Lefty states have a solution to this, and they ought to get on it right away: National Popular Vote.
A switch from the electoral college to a national popular vote would be momentous in how elections are run. In short, it would be a fascinating mess, but it would be more democratic than what we have now. The movement has been gaining momentum since someone came up with a way to make it happen that avoids needing a constitutional referendum: states can pass a bill saying that they will give all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, but only if enough states to deliver the presidency pass the same bill (I’m happy to elaborate, hit me with questions in the comments section).
According to National Popular Vote, they have half the electoral votes they need, now that California and its 55 electoral votes have passed the bill. Specifically, the movement has claimed 132 electoral votes, and has 138 to go. This will get harder as it goes on, as most of the “low hanging fruit” have been picked off. 10 states have passed the bill in one house and 2 (Colorado and Rhode Island) have passed it in both houses, but not signed it into law. Adding those nets 115 electoral votes, still 23 short. What the movement really needs is to convince a Republican non-swing state, Texas would be the big fish here, to join in. If Texas and New York pass the bill, we can talk seriously about electing our next president through the popular vote. Until then, we may have to hope there are a few more Ralph Smiths out there.