Entrepreneur Tom Golisano Endorses National Popular Vote
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Every Vote Equal:
A State-Based Plan For Electing The President By National Popular Vote
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With forewords from:
- John B. Anderson (R,I–IL)
- Birch Bayh (D–IN)
- John Buchanan (R–AL)
- Tom Campbell (R–CA)
- Greg Aghazarian (R–CA)
- Saul Anuzis (R–MI)
- Laura Brod (R–MN)
- James L. Brulte (R–CA)
- Tom Golisano (R,I–FL)
- Joseph Griffo (R–NY)
- Ray Haynes (R–CA)
- Bob Holmes (D–GA)
- Dean Murray (R–NY)
- Tom Pearce (R–MI)
- Christopher Pearson (P–VT)
Alaska - 70%
Arizona - 78%
Arkansas - 80%
Arkansas - 74%
California - 69%
California - 70%
Colorado - 68%
Connecticut - 73%
Connecticut - 74%
Delaware - 75%
Dist. of Columbia - 76%
Florida - 78%
Georgia - 74%
Kentucky - 80%
Idaho - 77%
Iowa - 75%
Maine - 77%
Maine - 71%
Massachusetts - 73%
Michigan - 70%
Michigan - 73%
Mississippi - 77%
Missouri - 66%
Missouri - 70%
Missouri - 75%
Montana - 72%
Nebraska - 74%
Nevada - 72%
New Hampshire - 69%
New Mexico - 76%
New York - 79%
North Carolina - 74%
Ohio - 70%
Oklahoma - 81%
Oklahoma - 75%
Oregon - 76%
Pennsylvania - 78%
Rhode Island - 74%
South Carolina - 71%
South Dakota - 75%
South Dakota - 71%
Tennessee - 74%
Utah - 70%
Vermont - 75%
Virginia - 74%
Washington - 77%
Washington - 77%
West Virgina - 81%
Wisconsin - 71%
Wyoming - 69%
Dist. of Columbia
New Jersey Assembly
New Jersey Senate
New Mexico House
New York Assembly
New York Senate
North Carolina Senate
Rhode Island House
Rhode Island Senate
With 642,000 people and an almost unbroken record of voting Republican in presidential elections, North Dakota may be an unlikely place to push for an overhaul of how the nation chooses its presidents.
Yet advocates of revamping how the Electoral College works are hoping North Dakota and other small states will lend momentum to National Popular Vote, a project that aims to guarantee the White House to the candidate who wins the national ballot.
John Koza, a Stanford University professor who is one of the idea's principal advocates, believes a North Dakota triumph for the idea may influence other rural, traditionally GOP states in the Great Plains to go along.
"When you're running for president, if a state is lopsided one way or the other, you have no interest in that state," Koza said. "The interests of North Dakota are not on the radar screen of somebody who is running for president."
The project's goal is to coax state legislatures to join an interstate agreement to promise their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.
Lloyd Omdahl, a former University of North Dakota political science professor, state tax commissioner and Democratic lieutenant governor, called the measure "ingenious" and said it would help bring a national focus to presidential campaigns.
However, he said he was skeptical the Republican-controlled Legislature would embrace the project.
"Republicans in North Dakota would see no benefit from this, because they almost always get the electoral votes. That's going to be a major political hurdle," Omdahl said.
Koza said lawmakers in 47 states have agreed to sponsor the plan this year, and its backers expect to enlist supporters in all 50 states.
It was introduced last year in Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New York and California, where the legislature approved the measure only to have Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger veto it.
Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo, is the measure's primary sponsor, and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Duane DeKrey, R-Pettibone, has signed on.
"I think we have to do some things to get people reconnected to the political process, and I think the discussion on this particular issue might be one of the ways to get people interested again,"
Hawken said. "This is a little different. It will get people talking."
DeKrey said he has not decided whether to vote for the measure, but he agreed to sponsor it because of consistent support in public polls for direct presidential elections.
"Its strength is, it is what the people want," DeKrey said. "It kind of takes out that system ... where the person who gets the most votes doesn't necessarily win ... I agreed to put my name on it so we could bring it up and talk about it."
Eight years ago, the House approved a resolution supporting a federal constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College in favor of electing presidents by a national popular vote. The proposal was defeated in the state Senate.
National Popular Vote's supporters point to the last two presidential elections as part of their arguments for change.
In 2000, Al Gore lost despite getting more votes than George W. Bush.
Four years later, a switch of less than 60,000 votes in Ohio would have given the election to John Kerry, even though Bush got 3 million more votes nationwide.
These results happened because in presidential elections, voters are not voting directly for a candidate. Instead, they are choosing slates of "electors," who are expected to support the candidate when they cast their votes after the election itself.
The Electoral College has 538 members, and a candidate needs at least 270 votes to be elected president.
Supporters of the project are asking state legislators to adopt an interstate compact that would order their state's electors to vote for the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. It would not take effect unless adopted by state legislatures that represent an electoral vote majority.
Compacts are agreements between states over common issues, and are used to regulate water, child support enforcement, the handling of ex-convicts on probation, and other matters. North Dakota is a member of several compacts, including agreements that affect higher education, violations of hunting and fishing laws, and radioactive waste disposal.
Had the National Popular Vote compact been in force in North Dakota in 2000, the state's three electors would have been required to support Gore, even though Bush got 63 percent of the vote in the state.
Since 1900, only three Democratic presidential candidates have carried North Dakota - Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, who was the last Democrat to win the state in 1964.
President Bush has gotten more than 60 percent of the North Dakota vote in the last two elections.
The bill supported by National Popular Vote has not yet been introduced in the Legislature, and no hearing has been scheduled.
Allan Stenehjem, a former state legislator, has been lobbying lawmakers on behalf of the bill, and said Saturday he is still arranging for Senate sponsors.
Stenehjem's brothers, Wayne and Bob, are the state's GOP attorney general and Senate Republican majority leader.
Koza believes the National Popular Vote initiative is a better alternative than trying to amend the U.S. Constitution, which would require two-thirds majorities in Congress and ratification by at least 38 states.
Previous attempts to change the Electoral College system have concentrated on amending the Constitution, and have foundered as a result, he said.
He said the present system benefits neither solidly Republican states, such as North Dakota, or Democratic bastions like California.
Instead, it encourages both parties to focus their efforts on a handful of contested "battleground" states, and exaggerates the significance of issues important to those states, Koza said.
"Why is the rest of the country interested in Cuba? It's a couple of million people, we don't trade with them ... and it's certainly been no military threat for 40 years," Koza said. "Well, it's because
(Florida) is a battleground state, and whatever interest those states have are what drives a presidential candidate."
Summary of National Popular Vote proposal
By The Associated Press
The Associated Press - Sunday, January 07, 2007
A summary of the National Popular Vote organization's proposal for holding presidential elections:
PRESENT SYSTEM: When voting for president, state residents vote for slates of "electors." There are 537 electoral votes allocated among states and the District of Columbia. North Dakota has three votes.
Presidential candidates need at least 270 electoral votes to win.
Electors almost always vote for the candidate who carried their state, but in North Dakota there is no law saying they must.
SHORTCOMINGS: Under the present system, a presidential candidate can lose the national popular vote and win the election. This happened to George W. Bush in 2000, when he won the electoral vote despite finishing 543,895 votes behind Al Gore in the national balloting. In 2004, Bush beat John Kerry by 3 million votes, but the incumbent Republican would have lost the election if 60,000 Ohio votes had switched from Bush to Kerry.
PROPOSED CHANGE: The National Popular Vote initiative is asking state legislatures to adopt an interstate agreement, in which they would order their states' presidential electors to vote for the candidate who wins the popular vote. The compact would take effect once states representing at least 270 electoral votes had endorsed it.
CAN THEY DO THAT?: Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures authority to appoint presidential electors.
Supporters of National Popular Vote say their plan can be implemented without amending the Constitution.