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When the last few thousand votes counted in some states determine the outcome of an important presidential race, the question arose from some corners again: Should we leave the Electoral College?
On Tuesday, voters in Colorado asserted their desire to fundamentally do just that. Ranging from 52 to 48, the people of Coloradans voted to stay in the National Popularly Voted Interstate Treaty of Interstates. The state joined the pact last year, but a ditched effort put the issue on the 2020 ballot.
What exactly is it?
A contract is essentially an interstate contract that comes into effect after having enough states representing a majority of electors – 270 – signed it. The states in the treaty agree that instead of giving their electors to the candidate with the most votes in that state, they would award all of their electors to the candidate with the most votes. the most popular nationwide. While the Electoral College will not be eliminated, the result will be a president elected by a national popular vote.
So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have signed, with a total of 196 electoral votes. To take effect, the bill needs to be enacted by states that have an additional 74 electoral votes, and thus exceed the 270 threshold needed to elect the president.
What does a national popular vote mean for the United States?
For one thing, this week will be completely different. Instead of watching the polls’ live streams in Philadelphia, the results will be resolved on Tuesday night.
“We’ll talk about the Biden administration next,” Jesse Wegman told NPR on Thursday. “Who will be his cabinet.” Wegman is the author of the book Let the People Choose President and a member of The New York Times Editorial board.
As of Wednesday, Democratic candidate Joe Biden is ahead of President Trump by nearly 2 million votes nationwide. Biden’s lead has since risen to over 4.3 million.
Going back to at least 1968, it was clear that on election nights, who had won the popular nationwide popular vote, Wegman said – even among thieves like 2000.
“We knew Al Gore had won the national popular vote on election night. There was nothing to argue with. What we went through 36 days fighting was Florida votes and 25 electoral votes. tri of Florida, which it gives the winner. ”
Our current focus on a handful of purple states is because nearly all states give the Electoral College votes the same way Florida does: the winner of the Electoral College’s popular vote. The state wins all its electors.
The electoral college system has created a number of problems. First, the number of votes is not exactly proportional to the population.
If the United States used a popular vote, instead of the Electoral College, supporters say that every vote in every state matters – and each vote will be counted equally.
Electors are allocated based on the number of representatives a state has in the House of Representatives, plus two senators. The District of Columbia has three electors.
So California ends up with one elector for about 718,000 residents, while Wyoming has one elector for about 193,000 residents.
“In a sense, you could say that Wyoming’s voters actually get more profits in the Electoral College because, after all, a very small number of people are choosing three electors,” as NPR’s Ron Elving explained.
One person, one vote? Not necessarily.
Another problem is the one we’re looking at right now: Only states that are tightly divided between Democrats and Republicans will receive any attention in the general election.
More than 4 million people voted for Donald Trump in California – a whopping number. But those votes were effectively invisible to the electoral college and California was ignored by the candidates in the general election because it was a safe Democratic victory. The winner receives it all.
But what about one of the big concerns that are often mentioned about a popular vote – that rural areas will be ignored in favor of large population centers?
Patrick Rosenstiel, senior advisor to National Popular Vote, said the current system ignores both rural and urban voters, depending on the state in which they live.
“States like New York and North Dakota are priced exactly the same under the current system. They are not valued at all, because they are Republicans or Democrats,” he said. “The only way I know how to put the urban voters on par with the rural voters and the rural voters on par with the urban voters is to make every voter in this country politically relevant in the polls. presidential election.”
How to do that? A popular nationwide vote would require candidates to run in all 50 states.
Rosenstiel said: “I don’t care if you’re in downtown Manhattan or in the suburbs of Helena. When you go to vote for the US President, you know what counts towards the final results in the popular election. and you won’t be treated like a second class citizen. “
Rosenstiel, who describes himself as “a lifelong Republican trapped behind a green wall in Minnesota,” said the national popular vote effort received a lot of support from frustrated voters. all over the country.
And that’s why, he said, donors from outside Colorado have given money to the Colorado campaign to support the states – the Yes On The Popular Vote team has raised and spent about $ 4.5 million la, according to Colorado Public Radio.
“They want to end the system that we have today, and for good reason,” Rosenstiel said. “They don’t feel valued. It doesn’t produce a good result. It’s not the candidates’ fault. I don’t think the outcome will be good or bad no matter who wins. But the outcome. at worst it leads to chaos, unnecessary tally, lawyers and courts choosing the president. “
Opponents of Colorado’s national popular voting law point out that the rule could put state electors in the position to vote for a candidate not supported by a majority of Colorado voters.
Without a doubt, changing the current system is an uphill battle.
But Rosenstiel says the problems in the current system are clear enough to see: “The system you’re viewing is opening up right now is being crushed under its own weight.”
The Electoral College has become more of a partisan issue as Democrats have consistently won the popular vote since 2000. Barack Obama won both the popular vote and the Electoral College in 2008 and 2012. Al Gore in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 won many votes. vote, but lose in the Electoral College.
The states and DCs that had participated in the popular vote so far are all those that supported Biden in this election: the states in blue. But the bill has also passed in Republican-controlled legislative chambers, including the Arizona House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate.
Rosenstiel notes that all of the red / blue status lenses that we see America through are the product of the Electoral College system.
A system he called “unsustainable” because it created two types of voters: “battlefield state voters have all power with the US president and overpass state voters have very little. “