Movement Started To Take Over Electoral College
Published July 11th 2007 in an WSOCTV Eyewitness News Special Report
When you cast your vote for U.S. Senator or for student body president, every vote has equal weight -- not so in the race for U.S. President.

But a movement has started to change that.

Supporters of the popular vote movement are quick to point to the election of 2000, which was one of four times in history the winner of the popular vote didn’t win the election. Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 500,000 votes in the popular vote, but because of the winner-take-all Electoral College system, a much smaller number of votes in Florida determined George W. Bush to be the winner. (The opposite almost happened in 2004. Bush won the popular vote, but would have lost the election if John Kerry had won in Ohio.)

"It's a disaster waiting to happen every 4 years," said Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin. Raskin supported a bill to take over the Electoral College that’s gaining momentum around the country.

But Brian Darling, who works for the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation supports the Electoral College as it is. “I have a respect for our founding fathers and the system they put together.

Under the bill, all of the state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enough states sign on to an interstate compact that would make up a majority of the electoral votes.

So far, Maryland is the only state where the bill has been signed into law. The bill has been introduced in 43 states and has passed at least one house in 6 states. In North Carolina, it passed in the state Senate in May and has been introduced in the House. It’s also been introduced in the South Carolina House, but one of its sponsors, Rep. Jimmy Bales, says he doesn’t think it’s likely to pass. To see a complete list of sponsors in both states, click here:

Opponents of the legislation say it would have a negative affect on the way candidates campaign. Instead of spreading out around the country, they may focus only on big population centers and ignore rural areas.

“If we went to a system where there was no electoral college and scrapped the way we do primaries, the only place anyone would campaign would be NYC, Los Angeles, San Diego--big population centers,” Darling said.

But popular vote supporters say the Electoral College fosters its own geographic inequities.

“70 percent of campaign resources went to 5 states in the last election and 99 percent went to 15 states.” Raskin pointed out. He says candidates focus time, money and energy in battleground states and ignore the rest, including the Carolinas.

“Georgia and N.C., like the rest of the South except for Florida, are safe red territory,” Raskin said. He says gives voters in the Carolinas little motivation to vote. “The southern states have every reason to go back into the game by going toward a national popular vote, by insisting everyone vote in their state and the campaigns not just fly over the south.”