National Popular Vote passed in New York legislature

After perceived shortcomings in the electoral college in the 2000 election, and after Bush v. Gore, the National Popular Vote ("NPV") was introduced as a mechanism to convert the election of the president from the electoral college to popular vote. The goal was to avoid federal involvement: rather than enact a constitutional amendment, the NPV could garner support from individual states to give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than the winner of their own state's popular vote.

Such unilateral disarmament would not be politically feasible, so the NPV included a trigger that conditioned it taking effect only when states comprising a majority of the electoral college's votes (at least 270) had enacted the legislation.

There was a flurry of enactments several years ago, but the pace slowed. That said, progress continues. Yesterday, New York's assembly joined its senate in supporting the interstate compact. The NPV is halfway toward taking effect; 136 electoral votes' worth of states have passed it. If signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, it would push up to 165 votes.

As the proposal has been more popular in Democratic-controlled state legislatures, there are few big prizes left for NPV supporters, as California (55 electoral votes) and Illinois (20) have already enacted it. It has made progress previously in Pennsylvania (20). This year, it remains actively pending in Arizona (11), Connecticut (7), Nebraska (5), and Oklahoma (7). (The Wikipedia entry has excellent citations to the pending legislation.)

I've written extensively about the electoral college. I've concluded that the NPV likely fails absent congressional consent because it runs afoul of the Compact Clause, which prohibits states from entering agreements with each other that shift the balance of political power toward compacting states. I've also written about the "invisible federalism" undergirding presidential elections and explained that complications would arise should we decide to have 50 states' individual elections commingled into a single nationwide election.

Several more states would need to enact the compact before it takes effect, but New York's support shows that the issue is not over yet.