The electoral college has been a controversial method of voting in the United States for many years, as four presidents have been voted into office without receiving a plurality of the popular vote. Although it's relatively rare, this phenomenon occurred first in 1824 and most recently in the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
The state of New York has become the 10th state to take a significant step in order to change the way the electoral college system works. According to the New York Daily News, Gov. Cuomo recently signed the National Popular Vote Compact, which declares that the state will award its electoral college votes to the candidate that wins the national popular vote rather than the candidate that wins in the particular state’s popular vote.
This is a small step in a process that would essentially eradicate the electoral college in a work-around manner. If all states voted according to the national popular vote, the electoral system would still technically be in place, but it wouldn’t actually matter. This is a quicker method of reforming the electoral process than attempting to amend the U.S. Constitution, which would require ratification by 38 states.
As Slate notes, this method only works if the states that join what’s referred to as the National Popular Vote Compact combine for the total of 270 electoral votes required to be elected president. With 10 states and Washington D.C. currently on board, the total is now at 165.
The National Popular Vote Compact seeks to end the practice of candidates targeting only certain states during election cycles, with other states being seen as a foregone conclusion in the electoral college.