How the Swing States Work

By: Ed Grabianowski & Patty Rasmussen  | 

Ensuring Every Vote Counts

swing states
While some want to do away with the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote, the first step in having your vote count is registering. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Children are taught in school that every vote counts and Americans — optimists that they are — want to believe that.

But there are those who believe the Electoral College undermines the will of the people and others who believe it equalizes the votes for people who would otherwise be underrepresented. Those voters think the current Electoral College system encourages presidential candidates to concentrate their resources in swing states only, essentially ignoring the rest of the states and their citizens.


The Constitution allows state electors to decide how they allocate their electoral votes. As we mentioned, 48 of the 50 states currently use winner-take-all method, in which the winner of the statewide popular vote wins that state's electoral votes.

But the National Popular Vote interstate compact (NPVIC) is advocating for a different way. Its plan is for states to allocate all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular votes in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The compact only takes effect when enough states have signed on that would guarantee that the national popular vote winner wins the presidency. To date, 15 states and Washington, D.C. have passed legislation entering the compact bringing the total to 196 electoral votes or 72.6 percent activation.

The 2020 campaign and election already promises to be a close one with a polarized electorate and COVID-19 impacting the election with increased use of absentee/mail-in ballots. Might this be the last presidential election in which we see the end of the Electoral College? Stranger things have happened in 2020.

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