Bill proposes popular vote for president

(AP) " Nevada's Assembly Democrats, on a party-line vote, have pushed through a plan to replace the electoral vote system in presidential elections with a de facto national popular election.

AB413, known as the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote, was approved 27-14 on a Tuesday deadline for sending most bills from one house to the other. All 14 Assembly Republicans voted "no" as the measure moved to the Senate.

Currently the presidency is decided by adding up electoral votes awarded by individual states on a winner-take-all basis. President Obama won the popular vote in Nevada and got all five of its electoral votes.

Under AB413, states that signed on to such plans would award their state's electors to whoever won the national popular vote. Some states, including Maryland, have passed it, and it's received wide airing in legislatures across the country.

The plan wouldn't take effect until enough states have passed it to reach 270 electoral votes. Once that happens, the United States would have a de facto national election because all the states that passed it would award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, which would give the candidate the magic majority number of 270.

A national popular vote would likely change the tenor of presidential elections, political scientists say.

Rather than fighting it out in a few states, such as Nevada, candidates would try to pile up votes for a national victory. The most efficient way to do that: Go to where the people are, in metropolitan areas, and spend heavily on television.

The current movement for a national election stems from the 2000 presidential election, when George W. Bush won even though he lost the national popular vote. Political scientists refer to this as an "Electoral College misfire."

Movement leaders claim bipartisan support, but Republicans have been opposing it. They do better in small states, and eliminating the Electoral College would lessen the impact of those states, which are given outsized influence in the current system.

The winner-take-all system gives more influence to bigger states such as California, where a 51 percent victory delivers a whopping 55 electoral votes.


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