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Short Explanation
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee a majority of the Electoral College to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote in the Electoral College reflects the choice of the nation's voters for President of the United States.   more
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The National Popular Vote bill has been enacted into law in states possessing 165 electoral votes — 61% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the legislation.

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    Arizona Daily Star
    Bill would let Arizona opt out of Electoral College system
    'We need one person, one vote,' Tucson's Aboud says
    By Daniel Scarpinato
    March 6, 2008

    The 2000 presidential election may be remembered more for hanging chads, Florida recounts and a historic Supreme Court decision than for any specific policy matter.

    Aiming to avoid another situation where a candidate loses the popular vote but wins the presidency, and saying she wants to ensure every voter's vote counts, state Sen. Paula Aboud is pushing an effort to allow Arizona to essentially ignore the Electoral College system.

    The Tucson Democrat's bill would have Arizona join an interstate compact that would award the state's 10 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote β€” not just the winner of the most votes in Arizona.

    The measure also has a trigger allowing it to take effect only after having the support of enough states to amount to 270 electoral votes β€” the minimum needed to win the presidency. So far, only two states β€” Maryland and New Jersey β€” have passed the compact. Illinois is awaiting approval from its governor, Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat.

    The effort appears unlikely to come to a vote here for the second year in a row, but it has already prompted a relevant discussion in a presidential election year.

    Does every vote really count? Are some states and their voters all but ignored right now? And would scrapping the Electoral College render small states irrelevant?

    "This is a way to motivate and encourage national politicians to not take some states for granted," Aboud said. "We need to be a democracy. We need one person, one vote."

    For example, with Arizona Sen. John McCain being the presumptive Republican nominee, such a move would give Arizonans a stronger voice, since some assume he will have a lock on the state's electoral votes, said Barry Fadem, president of National Popular Vote, a non-partisan group pushing the movement coast-to-coast.

    "Because Arizona and California are safe states, there's no campaign conducted," Fadem said. "There's also no consideration of issues that are important to Arizona and California."

    Fadem said 34 states, including Arizona, didn't get much attention in 2004 because they were not viewed as competitive. Instead, 16 states drew 99 percent of the money and candidate visits, he said. And two-thirds of that was concentrated in five battleground states.

    There are also concerns about a candidate winning the presidency while losing the national popular vote, as was the case in 2000 for George W. Bush. Three other presidents in American history won this way: John Quincy Adams, in 1824; Rutherford B. Hayes, in 1876; and Benjamin Harrison, in 1888.

    Moving away from the Electoral College system could shake up American politics substantially.

    The system was devised as a compromise between small and large states when the Constitution was drafted, said Barbara Norrander, a political science professor at the University of Arizona. Because small states get a disproportionately higher number of electors, candidates might ignore those places and concentrate on population centers, Norrander said.

    But Fadem said small states are already ignored, since most of them are considered safe. Only New Hampshire, he said, sees substantial attention.

    Tucson Democrat Kenny Jacobs said he isn't sure what he thinks about Arizona changing how it awards its electoral votes. But he said he's already heard voters concerned that, with McCain the presumptive nominee, the candidates won't campaign here.

    "I believe that would be a mistake," said Jacobs, who worked for the Barack Obama campaign during the presidential preference election.

    Not everyone, though, is fond of the state wading into the issue.

    Aboud's bill has been promised an informational hearing, but Senate Government Committee Chairman Jack Harper, R-Surprise, said he doesn't plan to hold a vote to risk advancing the issue.

    Harper said he's allowing testimony on the subject because he likes Aboud personally but opposes the bill.

    "If somebody wants to get rid of the Electoral College, then the proper way to do it is to amend the Constitution," Harper said.

    But Fadem said the effort is constitutional since states are allowed to award their electoral votes however they choose.

    In theory, Fadem said, Arizona could award its votes based on "a coin flip on the Capitol steps in Phoenix on a Tuesday afternoon" β€” if the state Capitol had steps, which it doesn't. And, in fact, two states β€” Maine and Nebraska β€” opt for a proportional selection rather than winner-take-all.

    The group is aiming to change the way the president is selected in time for the 2012 election. And they're hoping eventually enough states join in that the rest can't resist, especially in the face of favorable public opinion polls.


    Reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote reflects the nationwide popular vote for President