Friday April 22, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the National Popular Vote bill (S.31) into law. VPIRG director Paul Burns also had a chance to address the media. Under NPV, the electoral votes from participating states are awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. This system guarantees that you cannot be elected President by coming in second, that every vote matters and that each state is relevant.
Under the current system presidential candidates spend the majority of their time and energy battling for votes in only a handful of states, while the voters in other states, like Vermont, are taken for granted. Presidential campaigns can ignore issues of concern to voters in the “non-battleground states” because votes in the Electoral College are almost always awarded to the candidate who gets the most popular votes inside each separate state.
In 2008, candidates concentrated two-thirds of their campaign events and money in just six closely divided “battleground” states – places like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia – and nearly all the rest of their resources in just nine other states. Voters here in Vermont, and in the remaining 34 states, are often mere spectators in presidential elections. On the other hand, if the President were elected by a national popular vote, the votes of Vermonters would matter. Every vote in the country would be equal.
The National Popular Vote bill has already been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington state and the District of Columbia. A partial list of groups endorsing the National Popular Vote bill includes VPIRG, The League of Women Voters, Common Cause, FairVote, Sierra Club, NAACP, National Black Caucus of State Legislators, ACLU, the National Latino Congreso, Asian American Action Fund, DEMOS, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Public Citizen, the Brennan Center, and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.