Ballot Access News reports:
On July 27, the Massachusetts legislature gave final approval to the National Popular Vote Plan bill. Governor DuVal Patrick is expected to sign it. Massachusetts will be the sixth state to approve the plan. The others are Hawaii, Washington, New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois.
According to BAN comments that brings the plan up to 73 votes. The states which have passed it have pledged to allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote once they reach 270 electoral votes, enough to carry the electoral college.
If this plan passes, it would no longer be possible for alternative parties and independent candidates to win electoral votes. For example, the Libertarian Party would not have been able to get its one electoral vote in 1972, which propelled it to national attention when it had very little money or organization. Regionally based parties (such as the American Independent Party in 1968) would also not be able to carry electoral votes based on carrying certain states.
One alternative plan that has been proposed is to allocate electoral votes proportionally within each state. This would allow smaller parties and independents to get electoral votes in some states – in California, for example, it would take less than 2% of the vote to win an electoral vote.
Both plans are designed to address the problem that under the existing system candidates are free to ignore the “safe” Republican and Democratic states. Critics of the National Popular Vote plan have pointed out that it could lead to a similar problem, in that candidates would be free to ignore “flyover country” and focus all their attention on the largest media markets. Under the existing system, lower-population states get some extra attention because they are allocated two electoral votes each for their two US senators, giving voters in lower-populations states proportionally more influence over the electoral college than voters in higher-population states. Proponents of the national popular vote plan see that as inherently unfair.