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A backdoor plan to thwart the electoral college

Some states try to ensure that the winner of popular vote becomes president.

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Picture it: On election day in some future year, a presidential candidate ends up with the most popular votes but not enough electoral votes to win.

It's a repeat of the 2000 election in which one contender, Democrat Al Gore, took the majority of the national popular vote, while the other, Republican George W. Bush, clinched the most electoral college votes and, hence, the presidency.

But this time there's a twist: A bunch of states team up and give all their electoral college votes to the nationwide popular-vote winner, regardless of who won the most votes in their state. Then, the candidate who garners the most citizen votes in the country moves into the White House.

Legislative houses in Colorado and California have recently approved this plan, known as the National Popular Vote proposal, taking it partway to passage. Other states, too, are exploring the idea of a binding compact among states that would oblige each of them to throw its electoral votes behind the national popular-vote winner.

At issue is the nation's presidential election system governed by the electoral college. Established by the US Constitution in 1787, the system has occasionally awarded the presidency to candidates who couldn't muster the most votes nationwide, as happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000.

While an amendment to the Constitution could change or eliminate the electoral college, battleground states and small states would probably oppose any change that would leave them with less influence. Indeed, since the system's inception, numerous efforts to amend it have been defeated.

Instead, reformers have turned to the interstate compact, saying it would be constitutional because agreements between states already exist.


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