Five out of our 45 Presidents have come into office without receiving the most popular votes nationwide.
State winner-take-all laws are the reason why a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the national popular vote. Under these state laws, all of a state's electoral votes are awarded
to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in each separate state.
A national popular vote for President is an achievable goal that can be in place in time for the 2020 election. The bill has already been enacted into law in 12 states possessing 172 electoral votes (CA, CT, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA). It will take effect when enacted by additional states having 98 electoral votes. The bill has previously passed one chamber in 11 states with 89 electoral votes (AR, AZ, CO, DE, ME, MI, NC, NM, NV, OK, OR). A total of 3,155 state legislators have endorsed it.
It does not take an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to change state
winner-take-all laws. State winner-take-all laws were enacted by state legislatures using their authority under Article II of the U.S. Constitution (and may be changed in the same way):
"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors...."
The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes was used by only three states in the nation's first presidential election in 1789 (and repealed by all three by 1800). It was never debated at the Constitutional Convention, and never mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It did not become predominant until 1880 -- almost a century after the U.S. Constitution was written.
Under the National Popular Vote bill, the national popular vote winner will receive all the electoral votes from the enacting states. The bill will take effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes -- enough to elect a President (270 of 538).
Then, when the Electoral College meets in mid-December, the national popular vote winner will become President because the enacting states will represent at least 270 electoral votes. Thus, the Electoral College will represent the will of the voters in all 50 states (and DC).