Massachussets Poised to Join Surging State Movement for National Popular Vote

CONTACT: Austin Guest, (212) 680-3116 ext. 110,


Interstate compact would ensure a one-person one-vote system

Boston - In a voice vote late last night, the Massachusetts Senate adopted legislation to enter the state into a growing interstate compact to replace the current Electoral College apportionment system with a national popular vote system.  The bill, which was approved by the state House of Representatives by a 119-37 vote last month, is now awaiting a procedural vote by both houses to send it to the desk of Governor Deval Patrick.

A national popular vote system will ensure that small states and predominantly "blue" or "red" states receive as much attention during campaign seasons as traditional swing states such as Ohio and Florida.

"This is a major step forward in the battle to bring fairness and true democracy to our outdated electoral process," said Garnet Coleman, a member of the Texas House of Representatives and co-chair of Progressive States Network (PSN), a policy group that has supported the effort to implement the national popular vote compact.  "We congratulate the Senate on their bold move toward a one-person one-vote system," said Coleman, "and we urge Gov. Patrick to follow in its footsteps."

If signed, the measure would enter Massachusetts into a compact with a growing number of states who have pledged to award their Electoral College votes to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote tally.  Once enough states have signed on to constitute a majority in the Electoral College, the compact will go into effect, replacing the much-derided Electoral College apportionment system with a straightforward national popular vote and circumventing the need for a Constitutional amendment.

Currently Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Illinois have all ratified the interstate compact, giving the plan 50 of the 270, or 19%, of the electoral votes it needs to take effect.  The compact has been advancing rapidly since its inception in 2006, with Maryland adopting it in late 2007, and Illinois and Hawaii following suit earlier this spring.

According to Christian Smith-Socaris, PSN’s Senior Elections Policy Specialist, the national popular vote movement is a sorely needed antidote to the current two-tiered system of "swing" and "spectator" states.  Citing figures showing that presidential candidates devoted 75 percent of their peak season spending to just five states in the last election cycle, he argued that "a national popular vote is the only way to make sure that a few hundred thousand voters don’t get to monopolize national politics."

According to a 2007 study by Harvard University, over 72 percent of Americans support replacing the Electoral College with a national popular vote.