Will the Oregon Legislature help abolish the Electoral College?

In 2009, the Oregon House voted 39-19 in favor, but the bill died in the Oregon Senate.

By Grant Schott of Fossil, Oregon. Grant is a union organizer and political activist. Previously, he contributed "Joe Miller, Oregon's first Democratic media consultant".

As we all remember too well, the winner of the 2000 popular vote, Al Gore, lost the Electoral College, and thus the presidency, to George W. Bush. This was the fourth time in our nation's history that our Electoral College system made the loser the winner. Article 1, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that the electors will be chosen by the states "in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct."

By the early 1800s, all states had adopted a state electoral vote winner-take-all system, awarded to the winner of a state's popular vote, leading to the four disparities and numerous close calls. The recent National Popular Vote campaign, launched in 2006, has made great strides in state legislatures, but still has a long ways to go.

The last serious and nearly successful attempt to abolish the Electoral College was in 1969/70, in response to the 1968 election. Richard Nixon's '68 electoral vote margin was far greater than his 1% popular vote margin over Hubert Humphrey. George Wallace's third-party candidacy came close to denying a majority to the top two candidates, which would have thrown the decision to the House of Representatives.

HJR 681, the Bayh-Celler Constitutional Amendment, would have abolished the Electoral College and replaced it with a system where the leading candidate who won at least 40% of the national popular vote would win the Presidency, with a runoff scheduled if no candidate received 40%. The proposal, halfheartedly endorsed by President Nixon, passed the U.S. House 339 to 70 and the Senate Judiciary Committee 11-6, before being filibustered by Southern and small state conservatives.

Since that failed attempt, in addition to the 2000 fiasco, two close calls have occurred. Had 1976 independent candidate Eugene McCarthy achieved ballot access in New York, he would likely have cost Jimmy Carter his margin there (as he did in Oregon, Iowa, and Maine) and thus given Gerald Ford an electoral victory. In 2004, a shift of a relatively few votes in Ohio would have made John Kerry the winner of the electoral college without the popular vote.

The recent National Popular Vote drive was launched in 2006, spearheaded by the leader of the 1969 movement, former Senator Birch Bayh, as well as former Republican Congressman and 1980 independent candidate John Anderson, along with former Republican Senators Jake Garn and David Durenberger.

Under the National Popular Vote bill, all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill will 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 has passed 30 legislative chambers in 20 states, is endorsed by 1,922 legislators, and has been signed into law in seven states, including Washington. Those seven states (plus DC) account for 76 electoral votes - just more than a quarter of the way there.

The Oregon House of Representatives voted for the bill, carried by Ben Cannon, 39-19 on March 12, 2009.

The vote was somewhat along party lines, but with eight Republicans voting yes and four Democrats voting no. The bill then went to the Senate Rules Committee where it remained until the end of session.

The bill will likely be introduced in the 2011 Oregon Legislature. Please take the time to contact your legislators to urge their support. To assist in this process, here is a letter-writing system on the NPV website.

  • (Show?)

    I agree with this column that it would be good to pass the National Popular Vote bill. I want to comment on the idea, expressed above, that if Eugene McCarthy had got on the ballot in November 1976 in New York state, that Ford would have won the election instead of Carter. That is extremely dubious. Carter's margin in New York over Ford was 289,000 votes. McCarthy would not have received anywhere near that number of votes in New York if he had been on the ballot. He was on the ballot in some big states, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, Florida, but in no state did he get as many as 66,000 votes.

    • (Show?)

      I have read that, since 2000, most Americans think our electoral system is corrupt, not because of the electoral college, but because the system is corrupt.

      Eliminating the electoral college will do little to change this.

      Rather I would like to see strict enforcement of election laws in Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Chicago, and other places where fraud is rampant, and also, I would like to see the introduction of integrity into the way the parties choose their nominees. One such reform would be to eliminate the caucuses which are notoriously crooked and have been for at least the almost three decades I have been involved in this stuff.

  • (Show?)

    Common Cause Oregon supports the National Popular Vote because every vote for president should be equal.

    Voter turnout is also reduced by the current winner-take-all system of awarding Electoral College votes. Ten battleground states in the November 2008 had a combined turnout total of 66% of eligible voters while the combined turnout dropped to 62% in the other states.

    Oregon's voter turnout was higher in 2004 when it was more of a swing state compared to our 2008 turnout when the conventional wisdom, correctly, was that Obama would win here.

    • (Show?)

      A survey of 800 Oregon voters conducted on December 16-17, 2008 showed 76% overall support for a national popular vote for President. Support was 82% among Democrats, 70% among Republicans, and 72% among independents. By age, support was 67% among 18-29 year olds, 68% among 30-45 year olds, 82% among 46-65 year olds, and 76% for those older than 65. By gender, support was 81% among women and 71% among men.


  • (Show?)

    This will be a hard sell in the new state legislatures across the US. The Pubs came out on the winning end of congressional seat reapportionment because seats moved from blue states to red states. These Pub legislatures and the new Pub congress will not look favorably on this idea.

    • (Show?)

      Saul Anuzis, former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for five years and a candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, supports the National Popular Vote plan as the fairest way to make sure every vote matters, and also as a way to help Conservative Republican candidates. This is not a partisan issue and the NPV plan would not help either party over the other. http://www.thatssaulfolks.com/2010/04/01/national-popular-vote-why-i-support-it/

      By state (electoral college votes), by political affiliation, support for a national popular vote in recent polls has been:

      Alaska (3)- 78% among (Democrats), 66% among (Republicans), 70% among Nonpartisan voters, 82% among Alaska Independent Party voters, and 69% among others. Arkansas (6)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 79% (Independents). California (55)– 76% (D), 61% (R), and 74% (I) Colorado (9)- 79% (D), 56% (R), and 70% (I). Connecticut (7)- 80% (D), 67% (R), and 71% others Delaware (3)- 79% (D), 69% (R), and 76% (I) District of Columbia (3)- 80% (D), 48% (R), and 74% of (I) Idaho(4) - 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others Florida (27)- 88% (D), 68% (R), and 76% others Iowa (7)- 82% (D), 63% (R), and 77% others Kentucky (8)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 70% (I) Maine (4) - 85% (D), 70% (R), and 73% others Massachusetts (12)- 86% (D), 54% (R), and 68% others Michigan (17)- 78% (D), 68% (R), and 73% (I) Minnesota (10)- 84% (D), 69% (R), and 68% others Mississippi (6)- 79% (D), 75% (R), and 75% Others Nebraska (5)- 79% (D), 70% (R), and 75% Others Nevada (5)- 80% (D), 66% (R), and 68% Others New Hampshire (4)- 80% (D), 57% (R), and 69% (I) New Mexico (5)- 84% (D), 64% (R), and 68% (I) New York (31) - 86% (D), 66% (R), 78% Independence Party members, 50% Conservative Party members, 100% Working Families Party members, and 7% Others North Carolina (15)- 75% liberal (D), 78% moderate (D), 76% conservative (D), 89% liberal (R), 62% moderate (R) , 70% conservative (R), and 80% (I) Ohio (20)- 81% (D), 65% (R), and 61% Others Oklahoma (7)- 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others Oregon (7)- 82% (D), 70% (R), and 72% (I) Pennsylvania (21)- 87% (D), 68% (R), and 76% (I) Rhode Island (4)- 86% liberal (D), 85% moderate (D), 60% conservative (D), 71% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), 35% conservative (R), and 78% (I), South Dakota (3)- 84% (D), 67% (R), and 75% others Utah (5)- 82% (D), 66% (R), and 75% others Vermont (3)- 86% (D); 61% (R), and 74% Others Virginia (13)- 79% liberal (D), 86% moderate (D), 79% conservative (D), 76% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), and 54% conservative (R), and 79% Others Washington (11)- 88% (D), 65% (R), and 73% others West Virginia (5)- 87% (D), 75% (R), and 73% others Wisconsin (10)- 81% (D), 63% (R), and 67% (I)


  • (Show?)

    This is madness. Every small state would be ignored if there were no Electoral College.

    • (Show?)

      The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all method (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

      Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree already, that only 14 states and their voters will matter. Almost 75% of the country will be ignored --including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and big states like California, Georgia, New York, and Texas. This will be more obscene than the already outrageous facts that in 2008,, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states (with less than 7 electoral college votes) were not among them. Nor were big states like California, Georgia, New York, and Texas Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states, and candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

      Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

    • (Show?)

      12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes) are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota),, and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections. So despite the fact that these 12 states together possess 40 electoral votes, because they are not closely divided battleground states, none of these 12 states get visits, advertising or polling or policy considerations by presidential candidates.

      These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has "only" 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 lowest population states as important as an Ohio voter.

      The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically "radioactive" in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

      In the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by nine state legislative chambers, including one house in, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by the District of Columbia and Hawaii.

    • (Show?)

      Hey Wayne -- Which small states are included now?

      Maybe Nevada.... but otherwise it's all about Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

      Why should those three states get all the attention?

  • (Show?)

    I would support a system like Maine's or Nebraska's, as long as it applied to every state.

    • (Show?)

      The congressional district method of awarding electoral votes (currently used in Maine and Nebraska) would not help make every vote matter. In NC, for example, there are only 4 of the 13 congressional districts that would be close enough to get any attention from presidential candidates. A smaller fraction of the country's population lives in competitive congressional districts (about 12%) than in the current battleground states (about 30%) that now get overwhelming attention , while two-thirds of the states are ignored Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

      • (Show?)

        And they will matter less under what Grant and you want. We have a federal system, not a unitary one. That federal system, and the Electoral College, help preserve the viability of the states. If we're going to get rid of our federal system, we need to be thinking about a whole bunch more than National Popular Vote.

        • (Show?)

          Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, along district lines (as has been the case in Maine and Nebraska), or national lines.

        • (Show?)

          Bollocks. Fewer than a dozen states have any relevance whatsoever in the Presidential election. Under NPV, candidates would have to campaign in all 50 states.

          Are you really protecting small states, Wayne, or just the DNC's preferred approach to campaigning, which treats all 50 states like ATM machines for the purpose of running big campaigns in a handful of battlegrounds?

    • (Show?)

      The Nebraska method is intriguing. It would tend to make the electoral vote more closely reflect the national popular vote.

      One worry I have about the NPV is the prospect of a national recount. The Nebraska method would eliminate that. (And we'd probably have recounts for 3-4 electoral votes each cycle, and they wouldn't matter much in most cases.)

      That said, the one problem of the Nebraska method is that it suddenly makes gerrymandering even more valuable - by putting the presidency at stake as well as seats in Congress.

      • (Show?)

        The idea that recounts will be more likely and messy is distracting. Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods.

        The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

        The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

        A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and recounts. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires. The larger the number of voters in an election, the smaller the chance of close election results.

        Recounts in presidential elections would be far less likely to occur under a national popular vote system than under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each separate state).

        Based on a recent study of 7,645 statewide elections in the 26-year period from 1980 through 2006 by FairVote: The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 274 votes. The original outcome remained unchanged in over 90% of the recounts. *The probability of a recount is 1 in 332 elections (23 recounts in 7,645 elections), or once in 1,328 years.

        • (Show?)

          Yes, except that a national recount would be conducted under the elections laws of 50 different states.

          All other recounts we do now (in presidential elections and all others) are done under the auspices of whichever state is doing the recount.

          If we have a national popular vote, I think we'd have to have national balloting and counting standards.

          ....which is a good thing, regardless.

          • (Show?)

            The National Popular Vote approach preserves the power of the states to control elections—an important element of federalism.

            The U.S. Constitution does not require that the election laws of all 50 states are identical in virtually every respect.

            State election laws are not identical now nor is there anything in the National Popular Vote compact that would force them to become identical. Indeed, the U.S. Constitution specifically permits diversity of election laws among the states because it explicitly gives the states control over the conduct of presidential elections (article II) as well as congressional elections (article I). The fact is that the Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution permits states to conduct elections in varied ways.

            The Constitution’s grant of exclusive power to the states to decide how presidential elections are conducted was not a historical accident or mistake, but was intended as a “check and balance” on a sitting President who, with a compliant Congress, might be inclined to manipulate election rules to perpetuate himself in office.

  • (Show?)

    I understand people's feelings on this topic. However, this misguided attempt to change a process that works well is very shortsighted. It is a drastic solution in search of a problem.

    A little history: In our nation's history, only the elections of 1888 and 2000 ever had the Electoral College elect a President that lost the popular vote.

    The Electoral College is one of the devices that the founding fathers developed to handle our only national election. The original thirteen states were very suspicious of each other and were also suspicious of a strong national government. A lot of different ideas went into developing what became the Electoral College.

    One idea was to have Congress choose the president. This was rejected because of the fear of the political compromises and bargaining and also the possibility of corruption in the process. Also it was feared that this would upset the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of government.

    Another idea was to have state legislatures choose the president. This was deemed unacceptable because the president would be indebted to the states and this could weaken the national government or erode national authority.

    The third idea was to have a direct national election. This idea was disregarded for several reasons. It is clear that the founders wanted moderating voices between the electorate and the various branches of government. There also was fear that the public would have little information about the candidates and just vote for the one from their state. Another concern was that the more populated states would dominate the vote. This would still be true today.

    Finally a group called the “Committee of Eleven” in the Constitutional Convention came up with an idea of an indirect election through a College of Electors. The plan was that only the most sophisticated or knowledgeable citizens from each state would vote for president, based on merit and disregarding political parties. Each elector cast two votes. The person with the most votes would be President. The second most votes would be Vice-President. The results from each state would be couriered to Congress under seal and opened on the House floor. This method was used for only three elections. In 1804 the 12th amendment changed the voting to a distinct vote for President and the Vice-President.

    So why after all these years do we continue to use this system? For the best reason there is: It works well.

    What the Electoral College does is put two requirements for a president to be elected. First they must win enough popular vote to be able to govern. Second this vote must be sufficiently distributed throughout the country to win the various electoral votes. Being able to build a regional level of support would seem to be necessary to govern such a large and diverse nation as the United States.

    • (Show?)

      Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

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

      Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

      Because of the state-by-state winner-take-all electoral votes laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) in 48 states, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation's 56 (1 in 14) presidential elections. Near misses are now frequently common. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore's lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of 3,500,000 votes.

      The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

      Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    • (Show?)

      The Electoral College that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

      The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. It does not abolish the Electoral College. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

      State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award electoral college votes were eventually enacted by 48 states AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution.

      The Founding Fathers only said in the U.S. Constitution about presidential elections (only after debating among 30 ballots for choosing a method): "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

      Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.

      In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, Only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote.

      In 1789 only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

      The winner-take-all method is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The current 48 state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.

      The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes.

      As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states.

  • (Show?)

    The Electoral College vastly overweights the votes of citizens in sparsely populated states, resulting in the same policy skews that have bedeviled American politics for decades. As it is, the 544,000 citizens living in Wyoming have three electoral votes, or one per 181,353 citizens, while California, with its more than 36 million citizens, has 55 electoral votes, or one per 667,109 citizens.

    Ken provides a nice history lesson on why the EC was originally adopted in a largely rural, agricultural nation without universal education, without a mass media, without rapid means of travel, in short, a nation that has fundamentally changed in over two centuries.

    That is very different from the reasons we continue to use the EC. Social and political institutions are sticky, meaning that they often far outlive the original reasons for their creation. (The filibuster is another example.). Political actors (candidates, parties, etc) adapt to the "rules of the game" and are very resistant to changing thigns.

    One of the main reasons that the EC is still around is that it has propped up agricultural and rural interests, reinforcing the same biases in the U.S. Senate, at the expense of urban, and now suburban, interests.

    Not surprisingly, the power brokers in these states, who have historically held important positions in the House and Senate, have long resisted any change to the EC.

  • (Show?)

    I hope they don't. You think candidates are focused on just a few states now, wait until it's popular vote based. CA, NY, FL, TX, PA, OH, MI...and not much else.

    I don't much understand why it's a bad thing that states not contested closely don't get equal attention. It reflects the natural tendency in all elections for candidates to focus on ones they could win but also could lose, rather than ones they will surely win, or surely lose.

    At least now, a state like OR might be the beneficiary of close attention if a race were close. Under popular vote, it could be 50.0001 to 49.99999 in the polls and we still wouldn't get a visit. 2 million votes? Feh.

    This initiative ignores the central process of US Presidential elections: they are conducted by states, not people in them. We are a confederation of states, and our states do the voting. We as the people IN the states direct how the state should conduct its vote, but the state is still the entity doing the voting. I think that's a smart way to go about it, and has endured for many years. I look forward to it enduring for many more.

    • (Show?)

      The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states -- that is, a mere 26% of the nation's votes.

      The political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five "red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six "blue" states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

      Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support , hardly overwhelming, were found in the following seven non-battleground states: Texas (62% Republican), New York (59% Democratic), Georgia (58% Republican), North Carolina (56% Republican), Illinois (55% Democratic), California (55% Democratic), and * New Jersey (53% Democratic).

      In addition, the margins generated by the nation's largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states: Texas -- 1,691,267 Republican New York -- 1,192,436 Democratic Georgia -- 544,634 Republican North Carolina -- 426,778 Republican Illinois -- 513,342 Democratic California -- 1,023,560 Democratic * New Jersey -- 211,826 Democratic

      To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

    • (Show?)

      Oregon is the 28th largest state.

      As long as it remains safely "blue" and uses the state-by-state winner-take-all system, don't expect to be politically relevant in presidential elections.

      Under the current system, two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

      Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

      A candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation's 56 (1 in 14) presidential elections. Near misses are now frequently common. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore's lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of 3,500,000 votes.

      If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, candidates would need to build a winning coalition across demographics. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be politically relevant, counted for, and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Any candidate who yielded, for example, the 21% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a "big state" approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would still have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn't be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.

      For example, in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don't campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don't control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn't have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles.

  • (Show?)

    The Independent Party of Oregon endorsed this bill in the 2009 Legislature. It was passed by the House but killed by the Senate Rules Committee.

  • (Show?)

    I this was a true national popular vote, it would make sense to support it. But this is an attempt to get around the rigorous Constitutional amendment requirements that would change or eliminate the Electoral College.

    The Devil's in the details - and all the math described above doesn't account for the for the well documented variables that election "anomalies" will present - esp. in close elections.

    How will recounts in particular states, districts or even precincts be recognized and when and how will their numbers be tracked? Just WHO is the supreme arbiter that will wave the magic wand for the nation or any state in particular and declare a popular vote winner.

    How can Oregon, casting a decidedly Blue vote, be ordered to cast her 7 EC votes for the GOP candidate when 4 other states show: - strange undervotes at the top of the ticket (Sarasota, 2006) - purged voter rolls (FL, 2000) - significant voter suppression (NH 2002, OH 2004) - limited and malfunctioning voting equipment (name it)

    See, it's not all about the numbers - it's about the process. I'm no fan of the EC, but painting a Yugo with some fine Cadillac paint doesn't fix the mechanical mess. To go forth and effect this without addressing the bigger elephant in the room - the overabundance of election snafus and outright malfeasance, is not just shortsighted, but blind to reality.

    And the crux is this - no state should be reliant upon a collective of all the states in determining it's own vote.

    Or are you OK with just trusting Ohio and Florida?

connect with blueoregon