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Will Missouri join national effort to give presidency to winner of popular vote?

In Backroom

12:51 pm on Wed, 02.15.12

In a rare bipartisan move, the Missouri House's top Republican and Democrat have signed on as cosponsors to a bill -- part of a national movement -- that seeks to commit the state to awarding all of its presidential electors to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

tilley100steventalboy100mikeHouse Speaker Steve Tilley, (far right) R-Perryville, and Democratic Minority Leader Mike Talboy, (near right) D- Kansas City, are among the co-sponsors of the bill, filed this week. The chief sponsor is Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-Eureka.

Called the "National Popular Vote bill," national supporters say it "would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election."

Under the bill, the adopting state agrees that its electors (equal to the number of its members in the U.S. House and Senate) will be awarded to the candidate who wins the most votes nationwide.

The deal won't go into effect until legislative approval has been obtained in enough states where the electoral votes equal 270 -- the number that a presidential candidate needs to win the White House.

edgar100jameswikiFormer Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, (left) a Republican, is a co-leader of the movement, along with former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat. Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., also is a high-profile advocate.

Culver said in a statement emailed to the Beacon: "I believe the time has come for states to join together and support the simple premise that the individual who wins the most votes becomes the president."

The implicit aim is to avoid another 2000, where Democratic nominee Al Gore actually won more popular votes than Republican George W. Bush, who won more electoral votes and became president.

However, advocates also note that a similar situation, in reverse, would have happened in 2004, if Democrat John Kerry had carried Ohio (he lost by about 60,000 votes), even though Bush got 3 million more votes nationally

According to the group's web site, the bill already has been enacted by "9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 necessary to activate it."

The nine are Vermont, Maryland, Washington state, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Hawaii and the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.)

The measure has passed at least one legislative chamber in 12 other states, the national group says.

Backers say that the setup would force presidential candidates to campaign in more states, instead of the current practice of targeting the dozen or so "swing states'' and ignoring those where the state's overall vote is deemed a lock for the Democratic or Republican nominee.

 

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