National Popular Vote, Newsletter No. 61

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Newsletter no. 61 August 8, 2011

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs National Popular Vote Bill

Plan Has Now Been Enacted by 9 States Possessing 49% of Electoral Votes Need to Activate Bill

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the National Popular Vote bill.

California is the 9th jurisdiction to enact the bill. The National Popular Vote bill has now been enacted into law by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes—49% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it, including Vermont (3 electoral votes), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), Washington state (12), the District of Columbia (3), and California (55).

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes from voters in the entire United States.

The National Popular Vote bill has now passed 31 legislative chambers in 21 jurisdictions, including chamber(s) in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. A map on the National Popular Vote web site shows the progress of the bill in each state.

At the present time, the National Popular Vote bill has been endorsed by 2,110 of the nation's state legislators (27% of 7,424 state legislators).

Please Write Your State Legislators Asking Them to Support the Bill

One of the most important things you can do to support the National Popular Vote bill is to write your state legislators and state officials asking them to support the bill. You can quickly and easily send an e-mail to your state legislators by going to www.NationalPopularVote.com/write. Our system will provide a suggested letter, which you can edit.

Background

Under the National Popular Vote bill, all the electoral votes from all the states that have enacted the bill would be awarded, as a bloc, to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes.

The shortcomings of the current system are caused by the winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each separate state).

Under the current system of electing the President, two thirds of the states are ignored by the presidential campaign; a second-place candidate can win the Presidency; turnout is depressed in the spectator states; and every vote is not equal.

Because of the winner-take-all rule, presidential candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, or pay attention to voter concerns in states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. Instead, candidates concentrate their attention on a small handful of closely divided "battleground" states. In 2008, 98% of the post-convention campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided "battleground" states. Two thirds of the states were ignored by the presidential campaigns.

The same was true in 2004 when candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in just five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

Another shortcoming of the current system caused by the winner-take-all rule is that a candidate can win the Presidency without receiving the most popular votes nationwide. There have been four such elections out of the nation's 56 presidential elections. This is a failure rate of 1 in 14. But because half of American presidential elections are landslides (i.e., a margin of greater than 10% between the first- and second-place candidates), the failure rate is actually 1 in 7 among the non-landslide elections. Given that we are currently in an era of non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008), it is not surprising that we have already had one "wrong winner" election in this recent string of six close elections. Moreover, a shift of a handful of votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in five of the last 12 presidential elections. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected Kerry, even though President Bush was ahead by over 3,000,000 votes nationwide.

Voter turnout in the "battleground" states was 67%, while turnout in the "spectator" states was 61%.

Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives the states exclusive control over the manner of awarding their electoral votes:

"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors…"

The winner-take-all rule is not in the Constitution. It was not the Founder's choice (having been used by only three states in the nation's first presidential election). Maine and Nebraska currently award electoral votes by congressional district—a reminder that a federal constitutional amendment is not required to change the way the President is elected.

The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach. It preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College so that the President is the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

The bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Sacramento Bee, The Tennessean, The Columbian, Wichita Falls Times, Anderson Herald Bulletin, Daily Astorian, Connecticut Post, MetroWest Daily News, Sarasota Florida Herald Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, and Kent County Times.

As the Sarasota Florida Herald Tribune said:

"The most compelling and practical alternative is promoted by a bipartisan group called National Popular Vote. The NPV proposal calls for legislatures to pass bills committing their state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide; the bill would take effect only when enacted by states that together have enough electoral votes to elect a president."

State-level polls (most taken after the November 2008 election) show strong support for a national popular vote for President in battleground states, small states, Southern states, border states, and numerous other states. Support is strong among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group surveyed. State polls have been conducted in numerous states, including AK–70%, AR–80%, AZ–67%, CA–70%, CO–68%, CT–74%, DC–76%, DE–75%, FL–78%, ID–77%, IA–75%, KY–80%, ME–77%, MA–73%, MI–73%, MS–77%, MO–70%, MT–72%, NH–69%, NE–74%, NV–72%, NM–76%, NY–79%, NC–74%, OH–70%, OK–81%, OR–76%, PA–78%, RI–74%, SC–71%, SD–75%, UT–70%, VT–75%, VA–74%, WA–77%, WI–71%, WV–81%, and WY–69%.

The National Advisory Board of National Popular Vote includes former congressmen John Anderson (R–Illinois and later independent presidential candidate), John Buchanan (R–Alabama), Tom Campbell (R–California), and Tom Downey (D–New York), and former Senators Birch Bayh (D–Indiana), David Durenberger (R–Minnesota), and Jake Garn (R–Utah).

The National Popular Vote bill has now been enacted into law by jurisdictions possessing 77 electoral votes—29% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it, including Vermont (3 electoral votes), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), Washington state (12), and the District of Columbia (3).

The National Popular Vote bill has now passed 31 legislative chambers in 21 jurisdictions, including chamber(s) in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. A map on the National Popular Vote web site shows the progress of the bill in each state.

At the present time, the National Popular Vote bill has been endorsed by 2,110 of the nation's state legislators (27% of 7,424 state legislators).

Additional information is available in the book Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote (available for free reading or downloading at our web site).






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