National Popular Vote

National Popular Vote

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Updated April 21, 2014

The National Popular Vote (NPV) movement emerged in late 2006 and began to gain some steam in 2007. NPV seeks to ensure that the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes nationwide is elected president. When a state passes legislation to join the National Popular Vote Compact, it pledges that all of that state's electoral votes will be given to whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote nationwide. These bills will take effect only when states with a majority of the electoral votes have passed similar legislation. States with electoral votes totaling 270 of the 538 electoral votes would have to pass NPV bills before the compact kicks in and any state's bill could take effect. Currently, 165 electoral votes are pledged to the compact.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a National Popular Vote bill in 2011, marking the third time the legislature had passed NPV in California; in 2006 and 2008, the bills were vetoed. Passage of the NPV in California appeared to give the movement big momentum, bringing along 55 votes and getting the compact nearly halfway toward taking effect. Just one other state -- Vermont -- joined the NPV compact in 2011, and no states joined in 2012. The most recent states to join the compact are Rhode Island (2013) and New York (2014).

State Action on National Popular Vote

Between 2006 and 2013, every state legislature in the nation has considered a National Popular Vote bill. Ten states and the District of Columbia have enacted NPV bills, and governors in three states have vetoed NPV bills. In 11 states, an NPV bill has passed one chamber of the legislature.


To date, ten states and the District of Columbia have passed NPV bills into law. Maryland and New Jersey passed laws in 2007, Hawaii and Illinois in 2008, Washington in 2009, Massachusetts and D.C. in 2010, California and Vermont in 2011, Rhode Island in 2013 and New York in 2014.


The California legislature passed NPV legislation in 2006 and 2008, but it was vetoed by the governor both times. An NPV bill was finally enacted in California in 2011. An NPV bill was vetoed in Hawaii in 2007, and the veto of a second NPV bill was eventually overridden by the Hawaii Legislature in 2008. Rhode Island and Vermont also saw vetoed bills in 2008.

Passed One Chamber

States where NPV legislation has passed one chamber of the legislature are: 

  • Arkansas (2009)
  • Colorado (2009)
  • Connecticut (2009)
  • Delaware (2009 and 2011)
  • Maine (2008)
  • Michigan (2008)
  • Nevada (2009)
  • New Mexico (2009)
  • North Carolina (2007)
  • Oklahoma (2014)
  • Oregon (2009)


Rescinding Participation

Five of the states that have joined the NPV compact to date have seen legislation to withdraw them from the compact. Those states are Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington. To date, none of these bills has passed.

 The Current Status of the National Popular Vote Compact



State (Year enacted)


Electoral Votes Pledged

California (2011)


District of Columbia (2010)


Hawaii (2008)


Illinois (2008)


Maryland (2007)


Massachusetts (2010)


New Jersey (2007)


New York (2014)


Rhode Island (2013)


Vermont (2011)


Washington (2009)




Additional electoral votes required to take effect


Source:  National Conference of State Legislatures, 2014

For More Information

Contact NCSL by email or 303-364-7700

NCSL's Database of Election Reform Legislation

National Popular Vote (advocacy group)

Information on the Electoral College:  The Federal Register


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