September 30, 2014

Group wants to retire the Electoral College

The national spokesperson for group that seeking to take the selection of the president out of the hands of the Electoral College says the movement is gaining steam.

Tom Golisano of the “National Popular Vote Initiative” was in Des Moines Thursday talking about the effort.

The group needs states that have 270 — or half of the electoral college votes — to approve the change to make it happen. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm around our position now, it’s more a feeling of when and no if it’s going to happen,” Golisano. He says 10 or 11 states have signed up and they have bills in the legislatures of 35 states. He says it’s an effort that’s long overdue.

Golisano says the group had first targeted the 2016 election to get enough states to change, but says the increased momentum makes 2012 a possibility. He says one hurdle there’s a lot of misunderstanding about how the electoral college works and also about the movement to change to the popular vote.

He says the Democrats think it is a Republican conspiracy and the Republicans think it is a Democratic conspiracy, but he says it isn’t a conspiracy against either party, it’s just an effort to ensure that the candidate with the most votes win. Golisano says the 2000 election is the example that stands out to most people, where George Bush won the presidency, even though Al Gore won the popular vote.

He says if John Kerry had won 60,000 more votes in Ohio in 2004 the tables would have been reversed on Bush, even though he had three million more votes overall than Kerry.

Under the electoral college, each state gets one vote for each of its two U.S. senators and one for each representative. Iowa currently has seven electoral college votes, but is losing one as the 2010 Census led to the lost of one representative. But Golisano says changing the system would not make Iowa any less important in the process because of its first in the nation caucuses.

Golisano says just as important, there are 900,000 “swing” voters in Iowa and candidates would not want to ignore those votes. He says it is also cheaper to buy advertising time per voter in Iowa and candidates would not ignore it. He says they would probably come here because it was cost effective to campaign here.

There are now television and newspaper ads running in Iowa touting the change to the popular vote that attack Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. Golisano says Perry’s the only candidate that’s taken a stand to stay with the electoral college.

“It’s unfortunate Mr. Perry has taken somewhat most of the brunt of this, the fact is he has put his position in writing, and no one else has, and that’s why we’ve focused on Rick Perry,” Golisano says. Golisano says he’s more encouraged now than he has been about Iowa making the change to the popular vote, but wouldn’t say what he thought the chances were of that happening.