By Teresa Welsh |
The first election I was old enough to vote in was in 1992, the year Bill Clinton was elected. I remember thinking it was strange that Ross Perot earned 19 percent of the vote but didn't get anything in the Electoral College. Then there was the 2000 election, one of four U.S. presidential elections where the second place candidate became president.
In 2004 and 2008 the Electoral College delivered the popular vote winner but very few states were up for grabs. Most Americans sat on the sidelines watching the debate happen in one of the eight to 12 "battleground" states. And we did come close to a backfire. In 2004 we were 60,000 Ohio voters away from another second place winner—this time Sen. John Kerry.
The 2012 election has been the worst one yet, with four out of five voters being ignored by candidates seeking the presidency. Twelve of the 13 smallest states are on the sideline. Here in Vermont, if you want to participate in the presidential election, you drive to New Hampshire.
People think the Electoral College helps small states but it doesn't. We are treated just like people living in the big, non-battleground states like New York, California, or Texas.
In the United States of America every vote should matter. And every vote should be equal. Both values are inherent in our understanding of citizenship. If we have a popular vote the contest will empower the grassroots. Which is a good thing in an era with enormous amounts of money flowing into elections.
A popular vote for president isn't about small states or big states, red states or blue states. It's about every vote counting and counting equally. And it's about every state playing a meaningful role in the election of our president.
National Popular Vote is a state-based solution consistent with the Founders' vision. The states must choose to enact the National Popular Vote bill, and they are. National Popular Vote has already passed in half the states needed for the agreement to take effect.
Lets make 2012 the last election where candidates worry about nine states instead of 50. Tell your state legislator to pass the national popular vote bill next year.
About Christopher Pearson Member of the Vermont Legislature
Barry Fadem President of National Popular Vote
Lara Brown Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University
Trent England Vice President of Policy at the Freedom Foundation.
Tara Ross Author of Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College