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Michigan State House passes National Popular Vote Bill

A newsletter, posted below, from the National Popular Vote organization summarizes the situation in Michigan and gives some background information (albeit very favorably biased background information) about the National Popular Vote Plan. In case you’re wondering, this could potentially have a positive effect on third parties because it would eliminate the obstacle of one candidate needing to collect a majority of electoral votes. One candidate for president would only need to collect more votes than all of the other people running. If you believe that something different would take place, please say so in the comments. The newsletter:

Michigan House is 22nd State Legislative Chamber to Pass National Popular Vote Bill

The Michigan House of Representatives has become the 22th state legislative chamber in the U.S. to approve the National Popular Vote bill. The vote was 65 – 36, with three-eighths of House Republicans voting for the bill. The bill had 21 sponsors.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia).

The 22 state legislative chambers that have approved the bill include one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Vermont. A map on our web site shows the progress of the bill in each state.

The National Popular Vote bill has been enacted by states possessing 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect. The four states are Hawaii (4 electoral votes), Illinois (21), Maryland (10), and New Jersey (15).

73% of Michigan Voters Favor National Popular Vote

A survey of 800 Michigan voters conducted on December 2-3, 2008 showed 73% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

Support was 73% among independents, 78% among Democrats, and 68% among Republicans.

By age, support was 77% among 18-29 year olds, 67% among 30-45 year olds, 74% among 46-65 year olds, and 75% for those 65 and above.

By gender, support was 86% among women and 59% among men.

By race, support was 75% among whites (representing 82% of respondents), 64% among African-Americans (representing 14% of respondents), 64% among Hispanics (representing 2% of respondents), and 69% among Others (representing 2% of respondents).

Based on whether the respondent or someone in the respondent’s household is a member of a labor union, support was 77% for union households and 72% for non-union households.


The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia).

The National Popular Vote bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill is in effect, all the electoral votes from the states that enacted the bill would be awarded, as a bloc, to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Under the current system of electing the President, two thirds of the states are ignored by the presidential campaigns; turnout is depressed in the spectator states; a second-place candidate can win the Presidency; and every vote is not equal.

According to data just released by FairVote (the electoral research group), 98% of the campaign events between the 2008 Republican National Convention and election day involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in the same 15 “battleground” states. This means that two thirds of the states were ignored by the presidential campaigns.

Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

The shortcomings of the current system are caused by the winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each separate state). Because of the winner-take-all rule, presidential candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, or pay attention to voter concerns in states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. Instead, candidates concentrate their attention on a small handful of closely divided “battleground” states.

Voter turnout in the “battleground” states was 67%, while turnout in the “spectator” states was 61%.

Another shortcoming of the current system caused by the winner-take-all rule is that a candidate can win the Presidency without receiving the most popular votes nationwide. There have been four “wrong winner” elections out of the nation’s 55 presidential elections. This is a failure rate of 1 in 14.

But because half of American presidential elections are landslides (i.e., a margin of greater than 10% between the first- and second-place candidates), the failure rate is actually 1 in 7 among the non-landslide elections.

Given that we are currently in an era of non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008), it is not surprising that we have already had one “wrong winner” election in this recent string of six close elections.

Moreover, a shift of a handful of votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in five of the last 12 presidential elections. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected Kerry, even though President Bush was ahead by 3,500,000 votes nationwide.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public have supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% supporting a national popular vote and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in Vermont (75%), Maine (71%), Arkansas (74%), California (70%), Connecticut (73%), Massachusetts (73%), Michigan (73%), Missouri (70%), North Carolina (62%), Rhode Island (74%), and Washington (77%). Details of these polls are available on our web site.

The U.S. Constitution gives the states exclusive and plenary control over the manner of awarding their electoral votes. The winner-take-all rule is not in the Constitution. It was not the Founder’s choice (having been used by only three states in the nation’s first presidential election). Maine and Nebraska currently award electoral votes by congressional district—a reminder that a federal constitutional amendment is not required to change the way the President is elected.

The bill has been introduced in 47 states legislatures. The bill is currently endorsed by 1,246 state legislators — 460 sponsors and an additional 786 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

The bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Sacramento Bee, Common Cause, and Fair Vote.

The National Advisory Board of National Popular Vote includes former congressmen John Anderson (R–Illinois and later independent presidential candidate), John Buchanan (R–Alabama), Tom Campbell (R–California), and Tom Downey (D–New York), and former Senators Birch Bayh (D–Indiana), David Durenberger (R–Minnesota), and Jake Garn (R–Utah).

Additional information is available in the book Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote (available for reading or downloading for free at our web site).


  1. TeachingTheWorld TeachingTheWorld February 22, 2009

    The 5 largest metropolitan areas in the US contain over 20% of the nation’s population. These 5 cities alone would become the kingmakers. The top 20 metropolitan areas contain over 40%. This bill is just an end run around the Federal Compact that makes America into a nation.

    This scheme is designed to destroy the Federal System, end State’s rights and shift all power to the Federal Government. It is an open door to a total fascist-socialist takeover.

    An overlooked fact under the National Popular Vote f a s c i s t – s o c i a l i s t takeover plan,


    Under NPV, a candidate who carries the 40 bigest cities, but does not win the largest number of votes in any state, could still be elected President, even though prior to the application of the NPV reallocation of votes, that candidate would be entitled to ZERO Electoral Votes.

    That’s right folks.

    Under NPV, a candidate who has actually earned ZERO electoral votes could be elected President, after the computation determines that all the Electoral Votes earned by some other candidate should be flipped to the NPV candidate.

    A candidate who has carried the overwhelming majority of states and Electoral Votes could have enough states Electoral Votes flipped to the NPV candidate to give the Presidency to someone who won NO states and just carried some of the biggest cities.


    There are thousands of possible scenarios under which this could happen.

    Say NO to this evil, illogical, ill-considered numb-headed plan!

  2. G.E. G.E. December 29, 2008

    Are you talking to me, LJ? If so, you’re flat-out wrong.

  3. G.E. G.E. December 29, 2008

    The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President.

    That statement shows a lot of ignorance. The electoral college gives disproportionate weight to the small states, genius.

  4. mvymvy mvymvy December 29, 2008

    Quoting Laura Kirshner of Washington, DC
    . . . The NAACP voted recently to endorse a national popular vote for president. Here’s why:
    The influence of minority voters has decreased tremendously as the number of battleground states dwindles. In 1976, 73% of blacks lived in battleground states. In 2004, that proportion fell to a mere 17%.
    Battleground states are the only states that matter in presidential elections. Campaigns are tailored to address the issues that matter to voters in these states.
    Safe red and blue states are considered a waste of time, money and energy to candidates. These “spectator” states receive no campaign attention, visits or ads. Their concerns are utterly ignored.
    Clearly, minorities should not and do not oppose the abolition of the Electoral College

  5. mvymvy mvymvy December 29, 2008

    The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.

    Small states are almost invariably non-competitive in presidential election. Only 1 of the 13 smallest states are battleground states (and only 5 of the 25 smallest states are battlegrounds).

    Of the 13 smallest states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska regularly vote Republican, and Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC regularly vote Democratic. These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has “only” 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

    The fact that the bonus of two electoral votes is an illusory benefit to the small states has been widely recognized by the small states for some time. In 1966, Delaware led a group of 12 predominantly low-population states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kentucky, Florida, Pennsylvania) in suing New York in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that New York’s use of the winner-take-all effectively disenfranchised voters in their states. The Court declined to hear the case (presumably because of the well-established constitutional provision that the manner of awarding electoral votes is exclusively a state decision). Ironically, defendant New York is no longer a battleground state (as it was in the 1960s) and today suffers the very same disenfranchisement as the 12 non-competitive low-population states. A vote in New York is, today, equal to a vote in Wyoming–both are equally worthless and irrelevant in presidential elections.

    The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically “radioactive” in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

    As of 2008, the National Popular Vote bill has been approved by a total of seven state legislative chambers in small states, including one house in Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

  6. G.E. G.E. December 28, 2008

    Perhaps, LJ, but this is well within the states’ constitutional powers.

  7. Morgan Wick Morgan Wick December 28, 2008

    Under the current system, at least small states get say in who the president is going to be.

    An NPV system would mean minorities would be completely squashed by the tyrrany of the plurality.

    Not that I’m happy with the electoral college, or that it even works to the small states’ benefit that well when big states have winner-take-all systems that maintain their importance.

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