State Mostly Ignored by Candidates
N.C. bill seeks to elect president by popular vote

By Margaret Lillard
Published May 15th 2007 in Charlotte Observer
North Carolina lawmakers joined a nationwide push to decide presidential elections by popular vote as a Senate committee gave its blessing Monday to a bill in favor of abandoning the electoral college system.

The measure, being pushed in several states by the California-based National Popular Vote organization, would only kick in if states representing a majority of the nation's 538 electoral votes decided to make the same change.

Despite its increasing size, North Carolina is largely ignored by presidential candidates because it doesn't have enough electoral votes to swing an election, said Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, chief sponsor of the legislation.

"We have (a presidential) election that is increasingly contested in a handful of jurisdictions and states," he said. "Unfortunately, we do not happen to be one of those states."

For example, in the 2004 presidential race, the top candidates spent more money on their campaigns in the battleground state of Florida than in 45 other states and the District of Columbia combined, Clodfelter said.

Three states collected 53 percent of the television advertising on the campaigns, while 23 states had no ads at all by the major candidates, he said.

Policy decisions made by successful candidates once they take office are often still driven by the political implications of which states will be critical in the next election, Barry Fadem, president of the National Popular Vote group, told the committee.

With the approval on a voice vote of the Senate select committee on government and election reform, the bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote. A companion measure awaits committee action in the House.

Under the current Electoral College system, voters decide to support slates of "electors," who meet to choose the president. A candidate needs at least 270 out of 538 electoral votes to be elected.

Most states, including North Carolina, give all their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the popular vote. Maine and Nebraska allot some of their electoral votes based on how the candidates fared in each congressional district.

Legislation has been introduced in 40 states to join the popular vote movement, but so far only Maryland has passed it into law. Opponents say the change would hurt small rural states, where the percentage of the national vote could be smaller than that represented by their votes in the overall Electoral College.

The measure has received support in committees or individual chambers in several other states, according to the National Popular Vote tally.

Hawaii lawmakers abandoned efforts last week to override Gov. Linda Lingle's veto, and Montana and North Dakota lawmakers have rejected the proposal. The measure was vetoed last year in California by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Fadem said legislators are trying to pass the bill again this year.

Sierra Club National Popular Vote Resolution
WHEREAS, the mission of the Sierra Club is to explore, enjoy and protect the planet through grassroots participation in politics and government; and

WHEREAS,  presidential candidates focus their efforts and resources only in battleground states.

WHEREAS, two-thirds of the states receive little to no attention in a competitive presidential election.

THERFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Sierra Club supports National Popular Vote state legislation that will elect the President of the United States by popular vote.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the Sierra Club supports election of the President of the United States by direct popular vote.