How to end the Electoral College and elect our next president by popular vote

How to end the Electoral College and elect our next president by popular vote
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In the next few months we can create the biggest, most profound change to our system of government since the Bill of Rights, the 13th Amendment ending slavery, the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote or the 26th Amendment giving the vote to 18 year olds.

We can effectively eliminate the Electoral College and give every American an equal vote for president of The United States.

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And we can do it without a constitutional amendment and before the 2020 presidential election, so that our next president is elected, not by an antiquated system of electoral votes designed to protect slavery and slave-holding states, but by the national popular vote — the way democracy is meant to be.

It is time, as the world’s oldest and leading democracy, for the United States finally to enact a system that empowers every person with an equal vote.

Here are the five things that Americans need to know:

  1. Because of the recent passage of legislation in Delaware, we are now only 86 votes away from reaching 270 electoral votes and triggering “The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.” The NPVIC, or “One Person, One Vote Compact,” is a legal, binding agreement between states that says something incredibly simple yet incredibly important: “The winner of the national popular vote in a Presidential election shall become the President of The United States.”
  1. How can this happen without a constitutional amendment eliminating the Electoral College? Here’s the simple answer: Under the Constitution, every state has 100 percent authority to award its electoral votes for president any way it wishes. A state can award them to the candidate who wins that state, as most currently do, but that is not a requirement.

For example, Maine awards each of its four electoral votes by congressional district. That’s why, in 2016, Maine ended up giving one electoral vote to Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE and three to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAre Democrats turning Trump-like? The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE.

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Almost every constitutional scholar agrees that if a state, or a “compact” of states, wants to give all of its electoral votes to the person who gets the most votes nationwide, it absolutely can do so.

And, under “The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact,” the member states all agree that they will give all of their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote when there are states with 270 or more electoral votes who have joined the compact.

  1. We are really, really close. With the recent addition of Delaware and its 3 electoral votes, we now have states with 184 of these 270 votes locked in. These trailblazing states are: Maryland (10 electoral votes), Massachusetts (11 electoral votes), Washington (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Hawaii (4), District of Columbia (3), California (55), New York (29), Illinois (20), New Jersey (14) and Connecticut (7), Colorado (9) and Delaware .

Current total: 181.

  1. How do we get the remaining 86 votes? All we have to do is convince the legislatures of states with at least 86 votes to pass “The National Popular Vote Compact” bill in their states and the governors of those states to sign it.

That may sound like a lot of work, but the hard work actually started a long time ago and we are almost there.

Every state is important, and every state can join the compact. And voters in any state can find more information or learn where their states stand in the process at http://bit.ly/EndTheElectoralCollege.

Here, from biggest to smallest, are just some of the states that can most quickly provide the additional 86 votes needed, as they are already in the process of considering the legislation: Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Michigan (16), Virginia (13), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Oregon (7), Oklahoma (7), Nevada (6), Utah (6), New Mexico (5), Maine (4), New Hampshire (4).

And Texas, with a whopping 38 electoral votes, and Florida with 29, could join this list with enough pressure from voters in those states.

Again, when we get just 86 more votes – which can be done with as few as three states from the list above – we will end the legacy of slavery and racism of the Electoral College and return America to its sacred principle of one person, one vote.

Richard Greene is an author, columnist, radio host, political communications strategist and public speaker. Known as “The Civics Dean,” he is a former fellow at the Constitutional Rights Foundation, a former attorney and the founder of 279 for Change, which advocates a new approach to engaging in politics. Follow him on Twitter @TheCivicsDean.

This op-ed has been updated from a previous version.