Maryland Passes ‘National Popular Vote’ Law

Both chambers of Maryland’s legislature have passed a bill, which Governor Martin O’Malley has signaled he’ll sign, that would award the state’s 10 Electoral College votes to the winner of the nation-wide popular vote. “It would not take effect until enough other states agree to do the same” to guarantee that the Electoral College chose the winner of the national popular vote.

Supporters of the measure, being championed by a national nonprofit group, say deciding elections by popular vote would give candidates reason to campaign nationwide and not concentrate their efforts in “battleground” states, such as Florida and Ohio, that have dominated recent elections.

Moreover, the supporters argue, such a system would prevent rare occasions, such as President Bush’s 2000 victory over Al Gore, in which a candidate who wins the popular vote does not prevail in the electoral college, a fixture in U.S. elections since the nation’s founding.

I’ve written about this movement before (here) as has Robert Prather (here). There will be constitutional challenges if it gets close to mattering. That’ll take a while. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill last year and “one chamber of the Arkansas, Hawaii and Colorado legislatures” have passed the measure this year. Presuming O’Malley signs, there’s still 260 Electoral Votes to go.

via Taegan Goddard

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. This is obviously a ground swell on the part of Maryland to support Bush. Bush won the popular vote in 2004, but sadly Maryland’s electoral college vote went the other way. While I can sympathize with their wanting to support Bush, I think they are going to need to do it the old fashioned way through the electoral college. Sadly, they have missed their last opportunity with the 2004 election, but be that as it may, it is to late for them now.

  2. It seems to me there would be huge fraud risks to such a system. Currently, if California wants to allow everyone with a pulse to vote as often as they like, such fraud will only effect California’s 60 electoral votes, and not increase the state’s voice in the election. Under this new system, California’s influence would be increased to the extent they allow voter fraud (i.e., California fraudulently reports 100% turnout, while all other states honestly report 40% turnout – California will increase its influence by 2.5 times). A better system would just award each state’s electoral college members proportional to the vote (i.e. 60/40 or 70/30) so that no state can cheat the system and increase its influence.

  3. Fersboo says:

    YAJ – Joking yes? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. With the shenanigans that occur on a regular basis by the Democrat/Union dominated legislature and county councils, I’m surprised that there are any Republicans/conservatives left in the state. Add in the overcrowding and terrible commuting conditions, I may have to start thinking about moving. Maybe back to gold country since CA’s politics are just wacky.

  4. bassndude says:

    So, not concerned with who the citizens of Maryland chose, only who wins the popular vote? They gonna wait till all votes are counted before they cast those votes? I think this subverts the reason for the system. Somewhere I remember something about the …”tyranny of the majority.”

  5. Maniakes says:

    I’m waiting for a Maryland court to try to order a nationwide recount when a future presidential popular vote is decided by a narrow margin.

  6. floyd says:

    perhaps this is the final proof that americans are incapable of self government. for those who have forgotten, it is;

    the united “STATES OF” america

  7. bob in fl says:

    What they propose is clearly unconstitutional. The only way such a law would be legal is if a Constitutional Amendment is passed nationally. In that case, the Maryland law would not be necessary. So what is the point?

  8. James Joyner says:

    What they propose is clearly unconstitutional.

    That’s not at all clear. State legislatures have essentially plenary power to allocate Electors as they wish. Indeed, the original plan was for the state legislators to pick Electors outright and tell them for whom to vote.

  9. Since there is no offical popular vote count, how exactly is Maryland going to determine what the popular vote count is?