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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Popular voting measure passes Assembly

One of the most interesting bills proposed in the New Jersey General Assembly's history passed today.

The new legislation would require the state's presidential electoral votes to be thrown to the winner of the popular vote, preventing such electoral debacles as the 2000 election in which President George W. Bush defeated Al Gore despite losing the popular vote.

The legislation would involve a compact with other states having a majority of the electoral college votes - totaling 270 - in which all of the states in the compact would throw their votes behind the popular election winner, ensuring the highest vote-getter would end up winning the election.

Already Republican legislators are up in arms over the bill's passage, after being in the party that received a presidential victory despite losing the popular vote in 2000.

“This legislation is a Constitutional travesty. It’s a back door end run of the federal Constitution,” said Assemblyman Richard Merkt, R-Morris, of the bill, sponsored by Assmeblyman Jospeh Cryan, D-Union . “Mr. Cryan is attempting to rewrite the U.S. Constitution. Personally, I prefer the James Madison version. This has to be the worst piece of legislation I have seen in my 30 years in government.”

Support for the plan has been almost universal all the way back to the 1940s, with opinion polls showing nearly 7 out of 10 American voters supporting a popular vote versus the current electoral college system.

Proponents argue that the current system means that almost nearly every state is decided from the get-go, meaning candidates usually concentrate on campaigning in only a few crucial swing-states.

New Jersey Republicans have argued the plan circumvents the United States Constitution, despite the fact that certain articles maintain that each state has the right to determine how its electoral votes are cast, opening the way for the inerstate compact to turn the election into the proposed popular scheme.

So far, only the Maryland legislature has moved to join such a plan, although similar bills are currently pending in several Northeast states, including New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.

Despite passage in both houses in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the plan in 2006.

1 comment:

Nicholas Stewart said...

As a Republican, I have to disagree with Assemblyman Merkt. There is far worse legislation currently and there will be more in the future. As a Republican, and more to the point - a general conservative, I feel it is important to reach out to more of the voting population and explain conservative values. I do not wish to 'steal' an election from the public at large. If Republicans fear this legislation, they should do more during campaigns to connect with the voting public. What's more, they should continue to reach out to the voting public after elections. Here, they could set a precedent, as neither party's reps do this. Our Constitution is the fabric of the American way of life, however, it WAS written over two centuries ago, in a considerably different time under different pretenses. Times change - so should our fabric. I hope, we voters, elect the proper individuals to continue our Constitution's evolution.
Nicholas Stewart