Aug. 31, 2006 – The California Senate approved a bill last week that seeks to make the popular vote, not the Electoral College, determine presidential elections.
The bill ratifies Californiaâ€™s involvement in an interstate agreement, in which states pledge to give their Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote in presidential elections regardless of the outcome in their own state. Only if states representing more than half of the nationâ€™s Electoral College votes ratify the agreement, would it go into effect.
According to a report released by the Center for Voting and Democracy, which supports the agreement, presidential candidates in the last election focused primarily on 13 "battleground" states that are still competitive between Democrats and Republicans. In 1960, 24 states were considered competitive.
The report found that the 2004 presidential campaigns spent $10 per voter during peak election times in New Mexico and Nevada, but less than one cent per voter in 25 politically dependable states. It also found that candidates made 45 percent of their campaign visits to and spent a majority of their advertising dollars on contested states Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
The Center said the California bill will help abolish a system that "relegates two-thirds of Americans to the sidelines during presidential elections for years to come."
But Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-California) told the Associated Press that the bill violates the founding principles of the US electoral system.
The Louisiana House of Representatives and the Colorado Senate have passed bills that would see their states join the compact, though both are still going through the legislative process. Elected officials in Missouri, Illinois and New York have sponsored similar bills.