Monday, January 14, 2008

Electoral College reform gets popular

Graphic from National Popular Vote -- Link below the fold.

Should we decide our presidents by the popular vote vs. the Electoral College? A few states have embraced an idea whose time may have arrived:
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey on Sunday became the second state to enter a compact that would eliminate the Electoral College's power to choose a president if enough states endorse the idea.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed legislation that approves delivering the state's 15 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The Assembly approved the bill last month and the Senate followed suit earlier this month.

Maryland — with 10 electoral votes — had been the only state to pass the compact into law.
[Keep reading... more after the jump.]
The measure could result in the electoral votes going to a candidate opposed by voters in New Jersey, which has backed Democratic presidential candidates since 1988.
The compact would take effect only if enough states — those with a majority of votes in the Electoral College — agreed to it. A candidate needs 270 of 538 electoral votes to win.

The compact has also passed both houses of the Illinois Legislature, according to the National Popular Vote movement, and has been approved by one legislative house in Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina.

Governors in California and Hawaii, though, vetoed bills to join the compact.

The goal is to ensure that the national popular vote winner becomes president. Democrats who sponsored the bill have noted that their party's 2000 presidential nominee, Al Gore, won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College.
And the SCOTUS decided the 2000 presidential election. Sunday's Chicago Tribune reported earlier on the Illinois legislation that passed to join the compact:
It's a small step. Even if the governor signs the bill, the agreement won't take effect until states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have signed on. And so far only one state, Maryland, has.
Now add New Jersey. That makes two. Illinois would make three if Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) signs the bill.

Eric Zorn at the Tribune concluded the "idea appears to be a nifty way around the difficulty of totally abolishing the electoral college..." He also posted the full text of HB 1685, the "Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote Act" for inquiring minds.

If you want to follow along, check National Popular Vote. So far, according to the NPV website, the popular measure has gained 366 sponsors in 47 states and another 391 have supported the bill "either in committee or on the floor of their respective legislative chambers. This total of 757 is more than 10% of all the state legislators in the country." That list could grow.