Michigan House Looking At National Popular Vote Concept

As reported in MIRS:

House Looking At National Popular Vote Concept
Michigan would join an interstate compact that would elect the president in 2012 based on the national popular vote, under legislation set to see action this fall, MIRS has learned.

Under the National Popular Vote bill, all of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes-270 of 538.

The bill, expected to be introduced by Rep. Matt LORI (R-Constantine), will have "a significant number of bipartisan cosponsors," said Todd COOK with Main Street Strategies. The bill with the actual implementation of the new rules would be partnered with another bill serving as a mechanism to enter into a compact with other states for the agreement.

Rep. Pete LUND (R-Shelby Twp.), chair of the House Redistricting and Elections Committee, said he plans to schedule a hearing for the package this fall. Lund said he hopes the hearings will help bring out the issues from those who support the package and those who oppose it.

"When you're talking about such a drastic change from the way we do the electoral college, that's a major thing," Lund said, noting he is not yet decided either way on the issue.

The bill has been enacted by eight states and the District of Columbia possessing 132 electoral votes -- 49 percent of the 270 necessary to activate it. The bill has also passed 31 legislative chambers in 21 jurisdictions, including Michigan, according to the nonpartisan organization National Popular Vote's website. HB 6610 passed Michigan's House Dec. 11, 2008 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Campaign and Election Oversight. The Senate only had one week to look at it before session ended, however (See "Electoral College 'Fix' Heads to Floor," 12/10/08).

Stephanie SANCHEZ, press secretary for National Popular Vote, said the group is working to gain the remaining electoral votes it needs for a majority by 2012.

"We're on an expedited schedule," she said.

Rep. Jim ANANICH (D-Flint) is expected to be a cosponsor for the bill in Michigan. Other Democrats have also come out in support of the popular vote movement. U.S. Sen. Carl LEVIN (D-Detroit) and U.S. Rep. Dale KILDEE (D-Flint) have both sponsored presidential popular election constitutional amendments.

Saul ANUZIS, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and a member of the Republican National Committee, has been vocal about his support of the movement. He wrote a foreword to the book "Every Vote Equal" published by the National Popular Vote group.

"Good public policy is good politics, and sometimes good public policy can be bipartisan," he wrote.

Opponents to the bill have presented concerns about reaching the agreement through an interstate compact, but Cook pointed to states leading the way with reform in the past when they enacted women's and minority's voting rights before the feds.

"Most of, if not all, the major changes in our voting system were done by states," Cook said.

Lori said he is currently educating House members about the package and the details.

"The 'one person, one vote' idea seems to be very popular with people and I think this gets us closer to that aspect," Lori said. "The biggest obstacle is just trying to educate people and get them to understand that the electoral college is not going away."

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