I’ve been hearing people say we should abolish the Electoral College, since it allows us to elect a president who did not win the most votes. I agree with the thought, since I think that the contest for the electoral map means that most states don’t attention from the candidates (Oregon had zero public campaign events from either candidate in 2016), their votes silenced by either their small size or their consistent voting record. There is also no advantage for having high voter involvement: hitting 51% in a state is the same as hitting 91% in that state.
Amazingly, eliminating the electoral college is not only possible, but relatively easy. The trick is that we don’t eliminate it, instead we use it’s rules to enforce the national vote. Each state is allowed by the U.S. Constitution to form it’s rules on how electors are selected and instructed. What if we had a law saying that our state’s electors were required to vote for the winner of the national popular vote? What if states holding 270 electoral votes or more all had that law? The popular vote would win, every time.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is the enactment of this idea, and it’s more than half-way done!
Eleven states with 165 Electoral Votes have already passed legislation to support the National Popular Vote. When 270 votes are accounted for, those laws go into action. You can read all about it at the National Popular Vote Site.
Oregon has a state legislature that only has a full session every two years. If they met annually, we might already have joined the Compact. Legislation to pledge Oregon’s seven Electoral Votes to the popular result passed the Oregon House of Representatives and is currently waiting in the Oregon Senate Rules Committee. This bill has significant support and Oregon’s Democratic legislature is an easy bet to get it passed. They just didn’t think there was any hurry…
What can you do? Make a phone call right now to your state Representative and Senator to express your support for this change. You can send emails and letters too if you want, but congressional staffers have consistently told us that office phone calls get more attention than anything else (local office is rumored to get more attention than capitol office as well). For me that means calling:
- Senator Betsy Johnson (Capitol Phone: 503-986-1716 District Phone: 503-543-4046)
- Representative Brad Witt (Capitol Phone: 503-986-1431)
For my Washington County friends, it means:
- Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (Capitol Phone: 503-986-1717, District Phone: 503-547-3543)
- Representative Ken Helm (Capitol Phone: 503-986-1434)
You can find your US and State Representatives using the Common Cause Find Your Elected Officials page.
Make a phone call now, and let your Representative and Senator know that getting this law passed is important to you. We need to have a true national election in 2020, not just a swing state contest.
Put an appointment in your calendar for early February. February 1st, 2017, the Oregon Legislature goes back into session. More phone calls once they are in session should keep them focused on getting this bill passed in 2017.
If you aren’t in Oregon, check out the status in your state, and find your representatives and ask them to participate. Historic support for this bill has been high, and we really could have this wrapped up in 2017.