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Neuter the Electoral College: Former Independent Presidential Candidate John Anderson is campaigning for a new way to elect the president


I ran into John Anderson, a former Republican congressman who represented the Rockford area in northern Illinois, presiding over a press conference Thursday, called to gin up interest in revamping a system where the candidate who has the most votes does not always win. (Remember Al Gore in 2000).

Anderson's group, named National Popular Vote, has a different approach: Try to get state legislatures to pass laws mandating that the states electors vote for the winner of the popular vote.

Civics 101 refresher: The U.S. president is not directly elected by voters; it’s the electoral votes that really count.

In Illinois, a bill to advance National Popular Vote's plan was introduced by state Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago), with chief co-sponsor state Sen. Kirk W. Dillard (R-Hinsdale), the chairman of the DuPage County GOP.

Springfield status: sitting in the state Senate Rules Committee, which in this short session (set to adjourn April 7), does not bode well. The bill is not yet even assigned to a committee to consider the merits of the plan.


Hertzberg wrote about this in the New Yorker today.

This is an excellent idea... a way to reinvigorate our democracy. The voter apathy generated by the Electoral college system is a huge threat to our democracy. Whether big or small state if you are not a swing state your vote is ignored in the Presidential elections...this has to change! and this is a way to do it without a constitutional amendment.

They are introuducing teh first piece of legislation here in Illinois

The importance of this idea is far greater than simply correcting the current election system in which 70% of the electorate is not part of the campaign.

The additonal importance is that governmental agendas will invariably change in good, but dramatic ways. Currently, the federal government -- not just the president but the Senate and even the Supreme Court (by virtue of their appointment from presidents and their hearings in the Senate)-- is forced to overvalue the short term needs of rural voters. And while Jeffersonian ideas about the importance of the land are quaint and interesting, we increasingly live in a country in which overwhelmingly the population lives in an urban archipelago. And yet that population is at the mercy of elected officers at the federal level in need of keeping these rural voters happy. Because the president has such a massive amount of power, even members of congress from entirely urban districts really cannot advocate for the needs of their districts because they know that doing so is counterproductive to the national party goals. And if the national party does not control the whitehouse, all the urban congressional reps will not really add up to enough to overcome the combination of a perpetually rural-controlled senate and whitehouse.

This change would force candidates to campaign to and for the cities. They would also need to govern for and to the cities.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 24, 2006 3:51 PM.

FYI: Blagojevich to skip Sunday White House State Dinner was the previous entry in this blog.

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