Debate Club

A Vote in South Dakota Should Matter as Much as One in Florida

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This Election Day, Americans again face the very real possibility that their popular vote choice for president will lose the election by failing to capture a majority of electoral votes.

In fact, we have already had four "wrong winner" presidential elections, and it almost happened again in 2004 when a 60,000-vote change in Ohio would have awarded that state's electoral votes—and the presidency—to Sen. John Kerry even though President George W. Bush carried the popular vote by 3 million.

Meanwhile, voters across 40 'spectator' states will go to the polls this year having been all but ignored while the two major presidential candidates concentrated on a small percentage of the electorate.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

The problem lies with the current winner-take-all system that awards all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular vote in each state. Today, for example, Republicans are free to bypass predictably 'red' states such as North Dakota and Kansas. Democrats no longer bother campaigning in solid 'blue' states such as New York and Massachusetts. As a result, presidential candidates do not address the issues of concern to four out of five Americans.

We can fix that, and make every American's vote count regardless of where they live, with National Popular Vote, a compact by which states with 270 or more electoral votes agree to award all of their votes to the national popular vote winner.

The good news is we are almost half way there. So far, eight states plus Washington, D.C. (Hawaii, Washington, California, Illinois, Vermont, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) with 132 total electoral votes, have passed National Popular Vote.

[See photos from the 2012 Presidential Campaign Trail.]

The compact, which the U.S. Constitution allows under Article II, Section I permitting state legislators to award their state's electors as they see fit, will kick in when states with 138 more combined electoral votes approve the measure. With state and national polls consistently showing some 75 percent of Americans supporting the change, the prospects appear bright for 2016.

When that happens, presidential candidates will be forced to campaign for every single vote, across all 50 states, because a vote in Rhode Island or South Dakota will carry as much clout as a vote in Florida or Ohio. No more 'battleground' states, and no more 'fly over' states. Every voter in each state will be equally important.

Barry Fadem

About Barry Fadem President of National Popular Vote

Tags
Electoral College
2012 presidential election
Constitution

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