Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Political Reform 101, Lesson 3: Making Each Vote Count

Let's say we, the 75 percent of the American public who want to do away with the electoral college, insist that Congress eliminate said college (see Lesson 2). Let's say that we fail, which we know we will, because Congress simply won't do that in the lifetime of anyone who is alive today. Well, all is not lost. As it turns out, it won't take an act of Congress to make sure each and every vote counts.

Enter the National Vote Plan. Under NPV, the states will work this out on their own, neatly bypassing Congress. States would enter into a compact with each other in which they would agree to have their electors (yes, they'd still be around) vote for the candidate who wins the nationwide popular vote. This would avoid the possibility that a candidate could win the popular vote but lose the presidency because of the current structure of the electoral college.

If NPV is a success, candidates would be forced to campaign in every state instead of focusing their attention on the so-called "battleground" states. And individual voters would finally matter.

The proposal is not problem-free, but it can work, and it has the support of legislators of every political persuasion. So far, two states—Maryland and New Jersey—have signed on. That's pretty good for a plan that's been around for just over a year. You can find out more at (where else?) www.nationalpopularvote.com.

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