-by Eileen Reavey
National Grassroots Director, National Popular Vote
We are only 22 years into this century and for 12 of those years the American president was a man who entered the oval office after losing the popular vote. Worse yet, we were less than 60,000 votes away from this happening in 2004, and less than 22,000 votes away from this happening in 2020, despite President Biden’s lead of over 7 million in the popular vote.
We should all be enraged by this system that gives us second place presidents, but you know who should be the most enraged? Millennials and Gen Z. Millennials and Gen Z now make up 40% of the U.S. population. And these 40% of Americans have spent at least 30% of their lives with the president being someone who lost the popular vote.
The oldest millennials, born in 1981 and now in their 40’s, cast their first ballots in a presidential race in 2000 and saw George Bush win the Presidency despite losing the popular vote by 540,000+ votes. The youngest millennials, born in 1996, cast their first ballots in a presidential race in 2016 and saw Donald Trump win the Presidency despite Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by 2.8 million votes.
The oldest members of Gen Z are now 24 years old, for 12 of those years-- half of their lives-- the direction of the country was shaped by someone who came in second place in the popular vote. Subsequently, these two presidents appointed 5 of our 9 supreme court justices, whose decisions will impact these generations the most.
The flaws of the current system for electing the president don’t stop there. We currently have a state-by-state winner-take-all electoral vote system. Forty-eight of our states have laws which say ‘‘whoever gets the most votes in our states wins 100% of our electors’. These laws are what lead to “battleground” states and “safe” states. There is no question that in 2024 the democratic candidate will win California and the republican candidate will win Wyoming - they are “safe” states. Each election, candidates know who will win at least 38 of the states before the campaign even begins.
The entire general election happens in a dozen or less states, the “battleground” states where the election within the state will be close. These states get all of the candidates' attention, and their issues and concerns get listened to while 75% of the country has no meaningful role to play.
There is good news. We can make sure that 2020 is the last time this inequitable process decides the presidency by electing state legislators who will support the National Popular Vote bill in 2022. The National Popular Vote bill guarantees the White House to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states & D.C. Fifteen states + D.C. have signed the National Popular Vote bill into law already and after states with just 75 more electoral votes sign on we will elect the president by popular vote.
Together, we can ensure that every vote is equal for presidential elections. Together, we can bring about a new era in American history where every presidential election results in candidates who are incentivized to campaign in all 50 states, and listen to the voices of all Americans. We can fix this broken system and give the gift of a better democracy to all those who come after us by the end of the decade, but we need your help.
Join our movement & email your state legislators in support of the National Popular Vote bill today.