Every vote counts in a fair electoral system

By Tom Umberg
Published July 24th 2006 in The Orange County Register
Your recent editorials, "Electoral college prank" [June 5]and "Doing the devil's work in Sacramento" [July 17], miss the point of my state legislation (AB2948) that would ensure that the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in the country would become president.

The purpose of AB2948 is simple: The presidential candidate with the most individual votes wins. This principle works well in our country for our local elections, county elections, state elections and federal elections. The only election in which the candidate who receives the most votes isn't guaranteed of being elected is the one for president.

The 2000 election debacle where former Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote but not the Electoral College would have happened again in 2004 if a mere 60,000 votes in Ohio had shifted from President Bush to Sen. John Kerry. If that had occurred, Sen. Kerry would have won the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by more than 3 million votes.

There has to be a better system.

The other purpose of the bill is to make California and all 50 states important in presidential elections. Currently California is one of about 34 states that have become completely irrelevant in presidential campaigns. These are states that vote for the Democratic candidate (i.e., California) or for the Republican candidate (i.e., Texas) on a consistent basis. These so-called "safe" states are ignored. The candidates neither visit nor actively campaign in these states. Again, there has to be a better system.

The real travesty for these "safe" states is that issues significant to states like California are not addressed by the campaigns of either party. The concerns of residents in "battleground" states like Iowa and Florida dominate the national campaign. California issues like immigration, trade policy, environmental protection, etc. don't get discussed by national candidates. The same is true for many other states where the outcome is predetermined.

AB2948 will make every voter equal and every state a battleground state. A national popular vote for president is a better system.

Tom Umberg
State Assemblyman, 69th District