Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has signed a law adding Minnesota to a multistate compact that would elect the president according to the national popular vote, making it the second state in just the last month to take action that would bring the compact closer to fruition.
The new law also enacted numerous changes to make voting easier and elections fairer in Minnesota, including expanding in-person early voting. It comes on the heels of two other laws Democrats recently passed to significantly enhance access to voting after they regained control over state government last year.
This latest law adds Minnesota's 10 Electoral College votes to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, under which member states would give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. Importantly, the compact would only come into effect once states with a majority of electoral votes have joined.
As shown on the map at the top of this story (click here to enlarge), the 17 current members with Minnesota's addition now have 205 of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the compact, and Democrats have a tough-yet-real path to approving the compact in several more states so that it could take effect by 2028.
To that end, Nevada Democrats just passed a constitutional amendment that would add their six electoral votes to the compact. The move is the first step in a multi-year effort that will require lawmakers to pass the same measure again in 2025 before sending the amendment to voters in 2026.
Democrats could also join before the next elections in two other states where they currently wield power: Michigan will try to join later this year, and Maine may do so next year. If those three states were to add their combined 25 electoral votes to the compact, that would leave the alliance just 40 votes shy of taking effect.
With Republicans usually (though not always) opposed to the idea of electing the president by the popular vote, Democrats will likely need to win control of state government in several states currently in Republican hands to make up the rest. The path to doing so runs through five more states where Democrats could realistically win power in time to activate the compact by 2028: Arizona, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Wisconsin.
These eight states have 82 electoral votes, more than the 65 needed following Minnesota's entry into the compact, so Democrats don't have to run the table. But they've already made progress in Wisconsin, where progressives just flipped the state Supreme Court. An upcoming lawsuit could see the court replace the GOP's gerrymanders with fairer districts, which is an essential outcome needed for Democrats to win future majorities there.
While the road to 270 is not easy, it is nonetheless realistic, especially if Democrats win the presidency next year and once again minimize their midterm losses two years later. And even if Republicans narrowly prevail in 2024—especially if they once again win the White House despite losing the popular vote—a 2026 Democratic midterm wave like the one the party enjoyed in 2018 could also help put the compact over the top.
For further reading about the mechanics and legal status of the compact, the organization behind it, National Popular Vote, has provided a detailed explanation about how the compact would work, addressing many myths surrounding potential problems. Daily Kos Elections also interviewed NPV official Christopher Pearson on "The Downballot" podcast earlier this year, which you can listen to below starting at the 21:40 mark.