The NCSL Blog


By Amanda Zoch

For most of the population, the Electoral College used to be little more than a footnote in history textbooks. Now—whether you like it or not—the Electoral College has become a political flashpoint.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has promised to do away with the institution, asserting, “I plan to be the last American president to be elected by the Electoral College. I want my second term to be elected by direct vote.”

Conversely, President Donald Trump wrote, “I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.”

Although the Electoral College determines the president, states play a significant role in how the institution functions.

NCSL examined the relationship between the Electoral College and state legislatures for the January edition of The Canvass, our election administration newsletter. Because states are responsible for determining how to select and manage electors, we identified five policy options for legislators:

1. Do nothing—the Electoral College is working fine as is.

2. Join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

3. Adopt the congressional district method of selecting electors.

4. Use runoffs or ranked-choice voting to ensure that electors go forward with a majority—not a plurality.

5. Deal with faithless electors.

Find more details about these options in our lead article.

The newest Canvass also includes an interview with Senator Kathy Bernier (R-Wis.), election news highlights and your monthly dose of cybersecurity updates.

Read the January issue here. To subscribe, email us.

Amanda Zoch is an NCSL legislative policy specialist and Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.