Here is a memo I wrote to Republican leaders and activists in 2010 that describes why I think the National Popular Vote makes sense.
With an open mind…read it…I think you’ll be surprised.
TO: Michigan Republicans & Conservative Activists
FROM: Saul Anuzis, Former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party
RE: National Popular Vote
DATE: March 29, 2010
I support the National Popular Vote Bill, which would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states—and I’m asking you to seriously consider this proposal.
As the former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, I am asking you to consider a bipartisan, truly representative and fairer process to elect the President of the United States—OUR President.
Currently, the Michigan Senate is considering SB 598. The same bill passed the Michigan House earlier with strong bipartisan support.
The National Popular Vote does not abolish the Electoral College. Instead, it uses the state’s existing authority to change how the Electoral College is chosen, namely from the current state-by-state count to the popular vote of the people in all 50 states.
This would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.
The shortcomings of the current system stem from the winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state).
Because of the winner-take-all rule, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation’s 56 presidential elections. As an example of a near miss, a shift of fewer than 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush, despite his nationwide lead of 3,500,000 votes.
This is a state rights issue. We the people—in every state—have the right to decide how and who is elected President.
The U.S. Constitution gives the states exclusive and plenary control over the manner of awarding their electoral votes. The winner-take-all rule is not in the Constitution. It was not the Founders’ choice and was used by only three states in the nation’s first presidential election in 1789.
Under the National Popular Vote, all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). The bill would replace the current state-by-state system of awarding electoral votes with a system guaranteeing the Presidency to the candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states.
As of today, 29 legislative chambers in 19 states have passed the National Popular Vote Bill. The most recent poll of Michigan voters found that 73% or our citizens supported this concept. A 2007 national poll showed 72% support nationwide for a national popular vote for the President.
The National Popular Vote Bill has passed in states having almost a quarter (23%) of the electoral votes necessary to bring this into effect. Those states include Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington.
This proposal would guarantee that every vote matters, every state is relevant, every town and community would have the same value to each candidate for President in every presidential election.
More importantly, this bill would insure that every Michigan vote matters, that every effort is relevant and that Michigan and issues important to Michigan stay in the forefront. Candidates would battle for every vote in Michigan!
During the 2008 Presidential campaign, John McCain determined that Michigan’s 17 Electoral votes were out of reach. Senator McCain’s staff announced to the world that campaign activities would cease in Michigan, so resources could be targeted to the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri. Candidate McCain abandoned conservatives in Michigan and made it difficult to win seats for U.S. Congress and the Michigan Legislature. With National Popular Vote, the McCain campaign would have fought for every Republican vote in Michigan right up until Election Day. Republicans—up and down our ticket—would have benefited from National Popular Vote in 2008, just as they would in 2012.
As a conservative and a Republican, there are several other political aspects that I think are important to consider.
I believe we are a ‘center-right’ nation. A national vote system would give our center-right coalition a greater voice in electing the President. Rather than having to campaign in battleground states only, every one of our coalition’s members would matter. Nationwide turnout, regardless of the impact on individual states, would matter. Our voices and issues move and affect voters nationally and candidates would have to take them into greater consideration.
Moving away from the current system also helps reduce the incentive and value of voter fraud. Today, small changes in a particular state could have determinative effects on the Electoral College vote. By moving away from the state-by-state system, we diminish the role any one group, city or ‘machine’ could play to swing a state’s Electoral College votes. We insure that the will of the people is heard.
In The Federalist Papers No. 68, Alexander Hamilton, in arguing for an Electoral College that reflected a ‘national perspective, said: “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”
Today, conservatives in many states have little voice. Presidential campaigns concentrate their efforts in the 12-18 battleground states, depending on the year. Under a National Popular Vote, conservative turnout in California, New York and small states like Vermont would matter. This would provide for a great incentive to organize our ‘natural’ and often times ‘silent’ majority in EVERY state.
Obviously, the left has a similar scenario and perspective about the national electorate. They believe that they have a better organizational base, a broader appeal and would/should be the majority party and movement in America. I am confident that the conservatives across this country are under-represented and under-counted election after election.
The bottom line is that the National Popular Vote Bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. I believe that is both right and fair.
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Thank you for your time and consideration. Keep the faith!