May 26, 2009

Make Every Vote Count

Quick: When did we elect the President last year? If you said November 4th, you're more than a month off. Try December 15th. That's when the electoral college convened in each state to formally ‘elect' Barack Obama president. Despite overturning the popular vote in 2000, efforts to establish direct election of the president– which would require amending the Constitution – have been unable to gain traction in Congress. Now two election reform organizations, relative newcomer National Popular Vote and the more established FairVote, have a promising proposal to use the electoral college for the very end it was intended to circumvent.

On April 28th, Washington became the fifth state in the nation to enact legislation in favor of a national popular vote for president. "Being a blue state since '88, in the primary cycle we draw some attention, but in the general election we draw very little attention from the national campaigns," says State Senator Joe McDermott, the prime sponsor of the bill in the Washington state Senate and a former elector himself. "National Popular Vote would blow that open. Whether the Democrat won by 52 or 57 percent would make a difference nationally. Assuming Washington was still a blue state, what the margin was suddenly becomes important."

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