He says he was shocked when, shortly after he announced his project in 2006, a number of state legislatures took up the legislative language he and his team of lawyers, lobbyists and political veterans were advocating. The first triumph came in Colorado, where the state Senate passed the bill only for it to die in the House. Then, in California, both chambers approved it—but Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed. Emboldened, Koza’s group launched a massive lobbying initiative in 2007 and saw its language introduced in 42 state legislatures. Maryland became the first state to enter the Compact, in 2007, followed in 2008 by New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii. Washington joined in 2009, then Massachusetts and D.C. in 2010. Vermont and California joined in 2011, followed by Rhode Island in 2013 and New York in 2014.
In the decade since Maryland joined, supporters and opponents of the Compact have refined their arguments to debate its implications. One devastating critique is that it would just create a new imbalance, and a new set of swing states, as presidential campaigns focus all their attention on the biggest cities and the biggest states. “If you look back at the constitutional convention, it’s pretty clear the framers thought that without an Electoral College, people running for president would go to the big urban population centers and ignore the more rural parts of the country,” says Hans von Spakovsky, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation and longtime critic of the Compact. “The Framers designed the system we have so that candidates wouldn’t have to win a national election, but a series of regional elections around the country.”