North Carolina Senate Agrees to Vote Plan for Electing President

By Gary D. Robertson
Published May 14th 2007 in The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina would enter a compact that could eliminate the power of the Electoral College system to choose a president in a bill that passed the Senate on Monday night.

If agreed to by enough states representing a majority of the nation's 538 electoral votes, the measure would require North Carolina to give its electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the popular vote nationwide.

The change could get presidential candidates to take North Carolina more seriously as the state's population continues to grow, said Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, the bill's chief sponsor. The current system leaves out North Carolina and focuses only on states that could help a candidate reach 270 electoral votes, he said.

"We have intensely focused media-driven campaigns in a few swing states," Clodfelter said.

The bill passed on a 30-18 party-line vote, with Democrats in the majority. The bill now goes to the House for consideration. Gov. Mike Easley hasn't said if he would sign the bill if the General Assembly approves it.

Under the current system, voters decide to support slates of "electors," who meet to choose the president.

Most states, including North Carolina, give all their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the popular vote in the state.

The bill, introduced in more than 40 states, has been pushed by the California-based National Popular Vote organization that is led by a bipartisan advisory board.

Republicans spoke out against the measure, saying that North Carolina may be required to give their 15 electoral votes to a candidate who may have failed to receive a majority of popular votes in the state.

"We'll be farming out the votes of North Carolinians to someone else," said Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.

Sen. Eddie Goodall, R-Union, said presidential candidates would be motivated to stay out of rural areas and focus on big population centers such as New York and Los Angeles. He said the proposed compact appears to run counter to constitutional principles of deferring power to the states.

"This doesn't look like the federalism our founders (wanted) to create,"

Goodall said.

Clodfelter said the opposition was crying "crocodile tears for the founding fathers," pointing out that early in the country's history the General Assembly members and other state Legislatures used to choose which candidate would receive their state's electoral votes themselves.

"The people didn't get to vote for president at all," he said.

Maryland is the only state to pass the compact into law. Hawaii lawmakers abandoned efforts earlier this month to override Gov. Linda Lingle's veto.

The measure was vetoed last year in California by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The compact has passed one legislative chamber in three other states, according to the National Popular Vote's Web site.
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.