State lawmakers are weighing a plan to change the way Iowa’s votes in the Electoral College are cast, so all seven votes would go toward the winner of the popular vote nationally. U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, says the times have changed and the nation’s political engine needs a tune-up.
Harkin says, "From the standpoint of equity and fairness, the Electoral College I believe is outdated and why it was set up in the first place no longer holds sway. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Electoral College eliminated and make sure that every person’s vote in America counted the same."
While many Democratic legislative leaders support the plan, other Democrats like Governor Chet Culver and Secretary of State Michael Mauro oppose it, as do many Republicans. Governor Culver says the change would hurt Iowa’s credibility and make us more of a "fly-over state." Harkin disagrees.
"Iowa would still maintain its first-in-the-nation (status) in terms of the Caucuses, that’s vitally important for Iowa and for us as a state and both of our parties, Republicans and Democrats," Harkin says. "I just don’t buy that argument that somehow we’d become less important."
Harkin says: "I’ve long advocated we should just have straight election of the president and then we wouldn’t have these problems of where somebody gets more popular vote but they don’t win the presidency. Al Gore and George Bush being the latest example but it’s happened a couple of times in our history."
In the 2000 election, Al Gore won the popular vote nationwide but George W. Bush won enough states to win the Electoral College vote and Bush became the 43rd president.
In each presidential election, Iowa’s Electoral College votes are cast for the candidate who carries the state. Under the bill pending in the Iowa Senate, Iowa’s seven Electoral College votes would be cast for the candidate who wins the popular vote nationally.