New Jersey Assembly wants electoral votes for popular vote winner

By Tom Hester
Published December 13th 2007
TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey may enter a compact that eliminates the power of the Electoral College to choose a president.

The Assembly voted 43-32 on Thursday to approve legislation delivering the state's 15 electoral votes for president to the winner of the national popular vote, although the measure could result in the electoral votes going to a candidate opposed by Garden State voters.

The goal is to ensure the national popular vote winner becomes president.

Democrats who sponsored the bill have noted how Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but President Bush won the electoral tally.

Sponsors Assemblymen Joseph Cryan, D-Union, and Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, contend the agreement would ensure all states are competitive in presidential elections, make all votes important and guarantee the person who received the most votes nationwide wins the presidency.

The compact would take effect only if enough states _ those with a majority of votes in the Electoral College _ agreed to its terms.

A candidate needs 270 of 538 electoral votes to win.

Maryland is the only state to pass the compact into law, while governors in California and Hawaii vetoed bills to join the compact.

Action on the compact is pending in other states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois and North Carolina.

Republicans criticized the bill as undermining federal elections by eliminating a factor that forces candidates to pay attention to voters in smaller states.

The bill has been pushed by the California-based National Popular Vote organization, which is led by a bipartisan advisory board.

The New Jersey Senate is slated to consider the bill on Monday. It tried to vote on the legislation earlier this week, but sponsors couldn't muster enough votes to get it approved.


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