Florida should join the National Popular Vote compact

Despite the presidential elections of 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000, the risk of the Electoral College rejecting the popular vote is still ever present. FLIER calls on Florida to adopt SB 440, the National Popular Vote bill, to resolve this problem.
July 22, 2011 - PRLog -- The 2000 presidential election is history – but the specter that haunted that election is still with us; George W. Bush became president without winning popular vote. This systemic flaw is made possible by the inequitable distribution of Electoral College votes.

In 2000, as in the elections of 1824, 1876, and 1888, the President of the U.S. was chosen by the Electoral College rather than by the vote of “we the people.” As long as a candidate wins enough states to equal 270 votes in the Electoral College, that candidate wins the presidency, even if they lose the popular vote nationwide. In 2004, John Kerry would have won the presidency if only 60,000 votes shifted his way in Ohio, and with them Ohio's 20 electoral votes, despite trailing Bush by some 3,000,000 in the popular vote.

Since the Electoral College is mandated by the Constitution, it might seem there aren’t any alternatives for changing this system, since changing the Constitution isn’t an easy process. However, the Florida Initiative for Electoral Reform (FLIER) believes we can change this system without amending the Constitution. The innovative solution they support – the National Popular Vote - doesn’t require amending the Constitution.  “It’s really pretty simple,” says Yury Konnikov, President of FLIER.  “Under the National Popular Vote compact, Florida would join other states and the District of Columbia, in agreeing to award all of its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes nationally. This ensures that all votes are equal and that all votes matter.”

National Popular Vote, the group proposing the solution, explains that, "Under the U.S. Constitution, the states have exclusive and plenary (complete) power to allocate their electoral votes, and may change their state laws concerning the awarding of their electoral votes at any time. Under the National Popular Vote bill, all of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538)."

Currently, seven states and the District of Columbia have passed the legislation and joined the National Popular Vote compact amounting to 77 electoral votes of the 270 needed for enactment. Most recently the bill has been passed by California's legislature and is awaiting Governor Jerry Brown 's signature. National Popular Vote legislation has been introduced in the legislatures of all 50 states with broad bi-partisan support.

In Florida, Sen. Tony Hill proposed SB 440 in the Senate during the 2011 legislative session. Despite the fact that a 2009 poll by Public Policy Polling showed 78% of Floridians support a national popular vote for President, the bill died in a subcommittee. The bill, which was a non-partisan proposal to improve democracy in the interests of all Florida voters, should be re-introduced, heard, and passed by the Florida Legislature as soon as possible. FLIER calls upon elected decision makers and Florida voters to demonstrate vision and dedication to improving democracy by taking action to adopt this measure.

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The Florida Initiative for Electoral Reform is a non-partisan coalition of groups and individuals recognizing the need for electoral reforms to enrich and expand democracy in our state and its localities. In addition to advocacy, we seek to provide education on electoral reform and the policy solutions necessary to realize it. We are working towards a vibrant democracy with accessibility for the average person, a competitive political environment, and pluralism in policy and decision making. For more information please visit http://www.floridaelectoralreform.org or e-mail info@floridaelectoralreform.org.

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