April 22, 2020

A push to change the way Electoral College votes are awarded is sweeping across the country, and Michigan is among the states looking at the idea.

The National Popular Vote is a campaign aimed at garnering support from enough states to change the current winner-take-all approach for selecting a president through the Electoral College. Instead, the National Popular Vote would guarantee that the winner of the popular vote during a presidential election gets the majority of the Electoral College votes (270).

“It’s an effort to use the power within the Constitution to move the country to a national popular vote for president, which is not exactly a controversial idea,” said Pat Rosenstiel, a senior consultant for the National Popular Vote campaign.

Rosenstiel said the idea has been in the works since 2007 and the group’s interstate compact encourages states to adopt legislation to award Electoral College votes to the winner of the popular vote in all 50 states.

Most states right now, including Michigan, have a winner-take-all system for casting Electoral College votes, which according to Rosenstiel, allows presidential candidates to win the White House without winning the popular vote. That’s what happened in 2016, when Donald Trump garnered enough Electoral College votes, but lost the popular vote.

“The vast majority of the American people of all political stripes would like to see a president elected by a national popular vote because they believe every voter in every state should be relevant in presidential elections,” Rosenstiel said.

Another reason for this push, he said, is most Americans get left out of presidential campaigns, because the number of Electoral College votes are decided based on a state’s population. For example, California has 55 votes, Texas has 38, Florida and New York each have 29. But, because the votes are a total of the House of Representative seats plus the two senators, states such as Wyoming, the Dakotas and Montana have three.

“Every voter, in every state, whether you live in Michigan, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas or California – you’re going to have a valued voice in presidential elections,” Rosenstiel said of the popular vote idea.

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