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Tom Golisano

Entrepreneur Tom Golisano Endorses National Popular Vote

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
11 Enactments
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.

  • Maryland - 10 votes
  • Massachusetts - 11
  • Washington - 12 votes
  • Vermont - 3 votes
  • Rhode Island - 4 votes
  • DC - 3 votes
  • Hawaii - 4 votes
  • New Jersey - 14 votes
  • Illinois - 20 votes
  • New York - 29 votes
  • California - 55 votes

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    Keep gerrymandering out of the Electoral College
    March 6, 2013

    Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney has a perfectly good reason for opposing a bill that would commit the state’s presidential electors to the candidate who wins the most votes nationwide: “I just don’t like it.” Yet other states are contemplating changes to the presidential election process that Courtney would like even less.

    Courtney’s resistance to change is understandable, and widely shared. The Founding Fathers devised the Electoral College as part of a system that has held up quite well, and a preference for leaving it alone is generally sound. The Electoral College is a remnant of federalism in which presidents are elected in a state-by-state vote, not in a national election. Most states award all of their electors — one for each of its members of the House and Senate — to the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote.

    Yet the Electoral College is a creaky institution, never more so than when it results in the election of a president who receives fewer votes than his opponent. This has happened four times, most recently in 2000 when George W. Bush trailed Al Gore by half a million votes nationwide. Four years later a 50,000-vote shift in Ohio would have given the presidency to John Kerry, even though he lost the popular vote to Bush by 3 million votes.

    A half-dozen states — Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — have debated proposals that could magnify this defect. All six gave their electoral votes to Democrat Barack Obama last year on the basis of the statewide vote, but their governorships and legislatures are controlled by Republicans.

    The most common proposal would award electors by congressional district, as is the practice in Nebraska and Maine. Under such a system Obama would have received four electoral votes from Virginia instead of 13 — the other nine would have been awarded to Republican Mitt Romney. In Ohio, Obama would have received six of 18 electoral votes, with 12 going to Romney. If all 50 states awarded their electoral votes by congressional district, Romney would have won the presidency with 277 votes to Obama’s 261.

    A state might support a presidential candidate of one party and a congressional delegation of another for reasons that include party-switching among voters and uneven geographical distribution of party members. Such a split might also be a result of gerrymandering — the drawing of political districts to benefit one party’s candidates. Gerrymandering doesn’t affect presidential elections because electors are awarded based on the statewide vote. But if one elector were awarded in each congressional district, gerrymandering could reach all the way to the White House.

    The idea Courtney opposes is being promoted by a group called National Popular Vote. The group is asking states to pledge their electors to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide. The pledges would be triggered as soon as states with a majority of electoral votes join the movement. So far nine have signed on, including California and Washington, with 132 electoral votes — about half of the 270 needed.

    NPV’s proposal would not abolish the Electoral College. Nor would it do away with the advantage that small states enjoy by virtue of having the same number of electors per senator as large states. The NPV concept does not require a constitutional amendment, so if unforeseen problems were to arise it would be easily revised or revoked. The proposal would induce presidential candidates to campaign nationwide, rather than focusing on a few swing states. Never again would a president take office without the support of a plurality of voters.

    These arguments have not swayed Courtney or other skeptics in the past; in 2009 the Oregon House passed a bill committing Oregon to the NPV concept but it died in the Senate. But efforts in other states to move away from a winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, thereby exposing the presidential race to voting skewed by gerrymandering, should induce opponents to give the NPV proposal a closer look.

    A commitment to support the winner of the national popular vote would not only end the peculiar practice of occasionally electing presidents who finish in second place. It could ensure that the nation isn’t led by a president who wins because of how district lines were drawn behind the closed doors of some state capitol.


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