National Popular Vote

National Popular Vote

Updated March 11, 2015

photo of the white houseThe 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.

In 2015, 9 states have introduced 11 bills to either enact or rescind the National Popular Vote compact.


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.

In 2015, 6 states (Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oregon) have introduced legislation to enact the National Popular Vote. Nebraska's bill has since died.


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.

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.

In 2015, 3 states who previously enacted the National Popular Vote introduced legislation to withdraw from the compact. Maryland's bill has since died.

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

About This NCSL Project

NCSL tracks election and campaign issues in four major categories: campaign finance, election laws and procedures, election results and analysis, and initiative and referendum. We provide comprehensive 50-state research and analysis on a wide variety of topics related to these issues.

For redistricting, NCSL provides similar data that covers redistricting laws, commissions and litigation.

Additionally, NCSL's Redistricting and Elections Standing Committee works on issues that effect all states, including voting technology and redistricting systems and technology.

If you don't find the information you need, please contact our elections team at 303-364-7700 or NCSL staff can do specialized searches for legislators and legislative staff.

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