National Popular Vote Bill Gains Life In State Assembly

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By Brandon B. QuinnAn old bill with national implications, proposed in New York seven years ago for the first time by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., is getting new life in the New York State Legislature.

The National Popular Vote act attempts to circumvent the Electoral College and overhaul the way the president is elected without amending the Constitution.

The bill aims to create an interstate compact, forcing the Electoral College delegates of each state that sign on to honor the wishes of the national popular vote.

The thinking goes that if enough states ratify the compact in their own state legislatures (270 Electoral College votes are needed to make the bill effective), the current system of blitzkrieg campaigning in swing-states alone would become obsolete.

“The ‘winner take all’ system is no longer adequate,” the bill says, “and the voice of millions of Americans should not be concentrated into the outcome of one state’s election. … An office that is representing all 50 states should be filled by a candidate who campaigned in all 50 states.”

“It circumvents the Electoral College but it does so through the Constitution. Constitutionally, states are allowed to enter into an interstate compact and states are allowed to decide how to use their electoral college votes,” said Mr. Thiele.

Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia have ratified the bill in their state legislatures, accounting for 132 total Electoral College votes. The bill has been proposed in New York, Minnesota, Oregon and Rhode Island, which together could add 50 more Electoral College votes.

None of these states are required to abide by the law until the 270 vote threshold is reached.

“The non-radical part of this is simply the guy who gets the most votes, wins,” Mr. Thiele said.

The bill has recently passed the New York State Assembly, 100 votes to 40, but time is running out on this legislative session for the Senate to do the same in order to get in on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s desk.

Ironically, the Senate has approved the bill the past two years with bipartisan support, without getting Assembly approval.

“It is on the calendar in the Senate, we expect them to pass it and we’re certainly optimistic,” Mr. Thiele said.

Governor Cuomo’s office has expressed neither support nor disapproval of the bill, saying only, “We will review the bill.”

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