By Louie Hunter –
Suppose you ran for the school board and got several thousand more votes than your opponent but lost anyway. Suppose the Georgia electorate voted to return Nathan Deal to office but, due to an antiquated method of counting votes, he was sent home to Gainesville. As civic-mined citizens, we would be very angry that the electoral process had rendered our votes irrelevant, wouldn’t we?
Welcome to the way America elects its president! The United States of America, the greatest nation on Earth, elects dogcatchers, city council members, state representatives, congressmen, and U.S. senators by popular vote – but not our president. We use an antiquated, state-by-state, winner-take-all system that forces presidential candidates to focus their efforts on a handful of “swing states” such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia. In fact, only about one-fourth of the fifty states get any attention at all from candidates campaigning for the right to govern all Americans. This makes no sense. It’s time for a change.
When American citizens cast their votes for president,it’s one of the greatest rights granted by the Constitution. The vast majority of Americans believe every vote should count equally. Every state should be included in the conversation. But that’s just not the case under the current system.
Article II, Section I of the Constitution gives the states exclusive and complete control over the way they award their electoral votes. The current winner-take-allsystem is not in the Constitution and the Founding Fathers certainly did not choose this method. In fact,only three states used their own, isolated presidential vote totals in deciding how to award their electors in the first presidential election.
Did you know that in 2004, 60,000 votes would have elected John Kerry president even though President Bush was ahead by 3,500,000 votes nationally? This is not the way to keep voters engaged in the process. If it’s Election Night and you live in the western United States, and you see on the news that key “battleground” states in the east have gone for one candidate or the other – and maybe those same news networks have already called the election for a certain candidate –how motivated will you be to go to the polls and vote?
There is a movement in America to reform our broken electoral process. It’s called National Popular Vote, and it would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states. National Popular Vote is an interstate compact, meaning it’s an agreement between states that says once enough states pass the necessary legislation – the compact needs 270 to take effect – those states’ votes will be awarded en bloc to the candidate with the most votes nationwide, thus ensuring a president elected by a national popular vote.
The National Popular Vote bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions (10 states plus Washington, D.C.) possessing 165 electoral votes – 61 percent of the 270 electoral votes necessary to activate it. The bill has passed a total of 33 legislative chambers in 22 states with strong bipartisan support.
National Popular Vote is good for the country as it gives Americans a stronger and truer voice in the presidential election process. Remember, the Constitution does NOT specify how the states must award their electors, so the Electoral College does not need to be abolished in order to implement a national popular vote. The states simply need to exercise their rights! The National Popular Vote movement will reform the current system, leveling the playing field for all states large and small. That’s as American as it gets. There is a great deal of momentum behind the National Popular Vote movement, and we Georgians will soon have our say. So stay tuned – there is much more to come on this!