The day before Hillary Clinton won the nation’s popular vote but ultimately lost the presidential election when Donald Trump took the majority of Electoral College votes, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that supports voter’s voices over electors.
“This action will help ensure every vote is treated equally and places New York at the forefront of the battle for fairer elections and strengthen our democracy,” Gov. Cuomo said Monday. “Making the national popular vote a binding one will enable all voices to be heard and encourage candidates to appeal to voters in all states.”
The new legislation alters a previous bill Cuomo signed in 2014 that put New York in an interstate agreement, the National Popular Vote Compact, in which member states vowed to give their electoral votes to the presidential candidate that won the popular vote. California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C. are its other members.
New York has 29 electoral votes, and the compact presently has 61 percent, or 165 of the 270 needed electoral votes. The vote awarding would go into effect if other states pass identical legislation.
Under Cuomo’s original bill, New York would be removed from the agreement if the measure wasn’t adopted nationally by the end of 2018. Monday’s version keeps the Empire State in the compact indefinitely.
New York and 47 other states use a “winner-take-all” system, where the popular vote winner receives its electoral votes. Under this system, candidates can focus campaigns and resources on battleground states instead of historically red or blue ones such as New York.
“Only in the world's greatest democracy, the person who receives the most votes for President is not necessarily the winner. National Popular Vote would change that, and it would mean that every American's vote in every state would count equally,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said.
Clinton won the popular vote over Trump by 200,000, but Trump received 290 electoral votes to Clinton’s 228; a minimum of 270 is needed to secure the presidency.
A petition created on Change.org Thursday sheds light on a little-known twist in the Constitution in which those electors can cast their ballot against the state’s vote, which takes place after the election on the second Tuesday of November.
Electors will vote in their state capitols on Dec. 19, and the petition urges them to “to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton” since she won the popular vote. Such a reversal has never been done before.
The petition had 400,000 signatures by 2 p.m. on Thursday. At 8:30 a.m. on Friday, it had more than 2.1 million.