The way we elect our president may be changing.
State legislators around the country are introducing the National Popular Vote law to change how their states allocate votes in the Electoral College.
Currently, this is done by a winner-take-all system, in which the candidate with the most votes in a state takes all that state's electoral votes. But in states that adopt the NPV law, those votes will go to the candidate who wins the most popular votes nationally, regardless of his or her success at the state level.
Supporters of the NPV say the winner-take-all system grants an unfair advantage to voters in larger states with more electoral votes.
"A citizen in California has about three times the influence of a citizen in Wyoming, or some other smaller state, in impacting the election of the president," said Steven Brams, a professor of politics at NYU and a supporter of the NPV.
If the winner-take-all system is replaced by the NPV law, the influence of every voter would be equal.
"All voters would be treated the same, wherever they lived," he said. "It nullifies this bias [and] supports the egalitarian principle of one-person, one-vote."
According to the Constitution, the Electoral College officially chooses the president. Each state, however, has the power to pass laws that decide on what basis its electors will cast their votes. Because the law encourages states to allot their votes based on the national majority, it becomes effective once states with a collective majority of electoral votes pass the law.
Last month, New Jersey Gov. John Corzine signed the NPV into law, making it the second state to adopt the new system.
The other NPV state, Maryland, enacted the bill last April. Illinois and Hawaii are the next states in which the bill will be decided, and in both states the bills are awaiting the respective governor's signature.
In New York, the NPV bill is making its way up the ranks. A spokesman for New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who co-sponsored the bill, said it is still in committee. "People have been looking to circumvent the Electoral College ever since the 1800s," the spokesman said. He cited the 2000 presidential election as the crucial factor in reforming the current system. A spokeswoman for Maryland's Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch also said that the controversial election was the catalyst in the bill's success.
There is, however, opposition to the bill's passage. In 2006, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill after it passed in both Houses of the California legislature. Schwarzenegger said that the bill "disregards the will of the majority of people voting for the office of President," specifically citing the will of most Californians.
Students at NYU said they were optimistic about the NPV.
Debbie Chung, a New Jersey sophomore majoring in politics, thinks it'll be best for both her home state and the rest of the country.
"Because New Jersey is considered a Democratic state, [its] issues tend to get ignored," she said. "I think this is good because it brings the candidates' focus back to where it affects the most people, instead of small state-specific interests."
© 2008 Washington Square News via U-WIRE