Calif. Measure Would Split Electoral Votes

Actor Bradley Whitford is in a political fight, not on the set of The West Wing, but on the real political stage of YouTube.

"This would be a great story," he said on YouTube. "Big money, intrigue, dirty tricks. But this isn't TV ... and we have to stop them."

He wants to stop an initiative that could shake up California politics and send shockwaves through the presidential campaign, reports CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes.

While California, like most states, is winner take all, a proposed initiative would slice the state's electoral votes up by district.

Republican Dave Gillard and his team are collecting the 500,000 signatures to put the initiative on a California ballot.

If the rules change, it could give the Republican candidate 20 more votes in 2008 -- as many as the entire state of Ohio.

"We're Californians, and we're tired of being ignored," said Gillard, the campaign manager of California Counts.

But Mark Peterson, a professor of public policy at University of California, Los Angeles, says this initiative has sinister motivations.

"It really would mean that there were only special unique circumstances for a Democrat to win the presidency of the U.S.," he said.

California Democrats agree and are fighting back.

"Our job is to make sure that everybody in the state knows that it's a simple dirty trick," said Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of The Courage Campaign.

The dirty trick, according to the Democrats, who taped the signature gathering and posted it on the Internet, is bundling together three initiatives to disguise the intentions of the third:

"We're trying to have more money for children's hospitals and more funding for child disease research and we have two other petitions ... the last one we have, we're trying to redistrict the electoral college," a signature gatherer told a voter in a YouTube video.

According to Jacobs, that signature gatherer disguised the electoral vote issue.

"The mere idea that they would stoop so low as to use children's cancer as the bait to get people to sign a petition, says everything. It's outrageous, absolutely outrageous," said Jacobs.

But even if this initiative passes -- most legal scholars agree the constitutional challenges would make the decision over hanging chads seem simple.
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