Electoral College Reform: 111th Congress Proposals and Other Current Developments [November 4, 2009] [open pdf - 313KB]
"American voters elect the President and Vice President indirectly, through presidential electors. Established by Article II, Section 1, clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, this electoral college system has evolved continuously since the first presidential elections. Despite a number of close contests, the electoral college system has selected the candidate with the most popular votes in 48 of 52 presidential elections since the current voting system was established by the 12th Amendment in time for the 1804 contest. [...] In the absence of congressional action since 1977, proponents of direct election have advanced a non-constitutional option in recent years, the National Popular Vote (NPV) plan. This would bypass the electoral college system through a multi-state compact enacted by the states. Relying on the states' constitutional authority to appoint electors, NPV would commit participating states to choose electors committed to the candidates who received the most popular votes nationwide, notwithstanding results within the state. NPV would become effective when adopted by states that together possess a majority of electoral votes (270). At the present time, five states with a combined total of 61 electoral votes (Hawaii, 4; Illinois, 21; Maryland, 10; New Jersey, 15, and Washington, 11) have approved the compact, while the compact is under active consideration by the legislature of several other states. For additional information on contemporary operation of the system, please consult CRS [Congressional Research Service] Report RL32611, 'The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections', by Thomas H. Neale. This report will be updated as events warrant."
CRS Report for Congress, R40895
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