The National Popular Vote (NPV) is a campaign encouraging states to enact legislation that would give their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationwide. That would ensure the candidate with the most popular votes nationally wins the election. The change will take place once states with at least 270 electoral votes, the minimum needed by a presidential candidate to win, pass the legislation.
On the same day the senate failed to bail out the auto industry, Michigan became the twenty-second legislative chamber to vote for the NPV, with Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey enacting it into law. Nathan Newman:
Michigan House Republicans provided almost a third of those votes, recognizing that under the Electoral College system, their national party counterparts were essentially abandoning them.
As Michigan state leaders argued, the point of a popular vote for President is not just for the abstract democratic principle of assuring that the popular winner become President; it’s to encourage candidates to fight for every vote in every state and never to have a reason to ignore their concerns. Majority floor leader Steve Tobocman, the main sponsor of the bill, noted:
“The [National Popular Vote] also will discourage candidates from ignoring so-called ‘fly-over states.’ John McCain bailed out of Michigan and Barack Obama pulled out of North Dakota for one reason: those electoral votes were out of reach.”
Michigan Republican leaders were primed to vote for the NPV, worried that national party leaders would begin ignoring state concerns after McCain lost the Great Lakes states. In Georgia, where Obama made an unsuccessful push to win this year, it’s the Democrats moving NPV forward:
Atlanta area lawmakers plan to push legislation next year calling for the popular vote —- rather than the Electoral College —- to decide who wins presidential elections.
State Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) and Rep. Stephanie Stuckey-Benfield (D-Atlanta) announced the legislation on the same day members of the Electoral College met in Atlanta and across the country to formally cast the ballots that will elect Barack Obama president.
“Now is the time to move popular-vote legislation onto the front burner,” Orrock said at a Capitol news conference. “This is a nonpartisan issue. This is an issue about expanding democracy.” […]
“The current system allows the needs and interests of Georgia to be ignored,” Stuckey-Benfield said. “If we had a national popular vote, then every vote would be equal and candidates would campaign for every vote.
Facing South notes that FairVote proposals have passed one legislature house in about 20 states so far. And a recent FairVote study finds that:
- 98 percent of the campaign events involving the 2008 presidential or vice presidential candidates occurred in 15 “battleground states.”
- Over half of the events were in just four states: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The electoral college is an artifact whose time has passed. This is a state-based plan that makes good sense to me.