Vermont Senate To Consider National Popular Vote This Week

This week, Vermont’s Senate will vote on S. 31, the National Popular Vote (NPV) bill that would allow the state’s electoral votes to be awarded to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide in 2012. Massachusetts and the District of Columbia are the most recent additions to the interstate compact that would only go into effect if enough states approve NPV to bring the tally of electoral votes to 270, the number needed to win an election. So far, the compact has been passed in states totaling 74 electoral votes - Vermont would add three.

Vermont’s legislature passed NPV in 2008, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Jim Douglas. The state senate passed the bill again in 2009, but certain of another veto, the House did not act on the measure. However, newly-elected Gov. Peter Shumlin is a former senate sponsor of the bill. According to the Burlington Free Press, Rep. Tim Jerman has collected 80 signatures in support of his bipartisan NPV bill.

In 2004, presidential campaigns spent two-thirds of their funds and campaign visits on just five states. Overall, more than 80% of resources were spent in nine states and over 99% of all funds went to just 16 states. Meanwhile, voters in the other 34 states were largely ignored. Unless the current state-centric system is changed, there is no incentive for political participation in electorally “safe” states like Vermont.