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National Popular Vote Moves Forward in North Dakota and Nation
J. Mijin Cha on January 18, 2007 - 11:05am
Legislators in North Dakota are promoting the radical idea that the candidate who wins the most votes for President should actually be President. The legislature introduced a bill last week to award its electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationally. A national popular vote initiative was passed by both chambers in California last year, only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. For the upcoming legislative sessions, twenty-nine states have also already lined up sponsors to introduce "National Popular Vote" bills.
National Popular Vote would ensure that only the candidate who receives the most votes nationally would be president. Under the current system, presidential candidates are forced to focus their campaigns on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states to capture the states' electoral votes. As a result, nearly two-thirds of the states are irrelevant in the presidential race. Because many voters feel their votes do not count, especially if they do not live in a battleground state, the present system lowers voter turnout.
With National Popular Vote, however, every vote counts because a states' electoral votes would only go to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. For example, progressives living in Texas -- and conservatives in Massachusetts -- have an uphill battle in terms of delivering their states' electoral votes to their favored candidate. Under the National Popular Vote system, however, their votes would be very important because they would count towards the overall national popular vote totals which would decide the election, rather than the archaic Electoral College system.
Implementing National Popular Vote can be done without a constitutional amendment. Instead, each state legislature can approve a "national compact" to cast its electoral vote for the winner of the national popular vote. Each bill would then contain a provision that it only goes into effect when enough states have similar legislation in place to account for a majority of electoral votes.
As Rep. Duane DeKrey (R-ND) said this week in promoting North Dakota's bill, "Its (National Popular Vote) strength is, it is what the people want. It kind of takes out that system where the person who gets the most votes doesn't necessarily win."