Massachusetts' Legislature Favors Popular Vote over Electoral College: Will Your Vote Get Neutralized?

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WILMINGTON, NC - MAY 6:  Voters fill out ballots at the Manley Reece Post 2573 VFW Hall polling station in May 6, 2008 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Democratic presidential hopefuls, US Sen. Hillary Clinton and US Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) are each hoping to win the primaries today in North Carolina and Indiana as the Democrats battle for their parties' presidential nomination before the National Convention in August. (Photo by Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)

If you aren't old enough to remember Bush v. Gore (serious trivia: for those who've followed California's Prop 8, check out the attorneys in Bush v. Gore and who they represented), don't worry. The debate it highlighted -- should our president be selected by popular vote or the electoral college system -- lives on in the efforts of many states, catalogued by National Popular Vote, to dump the electoral college in favor of the popular vote, and Massachusetts is just the latest state to walk that way.

Betsy's Page does a nice job of summarizing the situation:

The Massachusetts legislature voted this past week to climb aboard the National Popular Vote train. This is the plan in which states agree that, no matter how their state votes, they are instructing their Electoral College people to vote for whichever candidate won the [national] popular vote. This will go into effect only when enough states to account for at least 270 electoral votes have signed on to this agreement. Massachusetts joins five other states (Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington)that have passed bills. According to the NPV website, there also seems to be a a strong move ahead in New York to go forward.

Put aside however you feel about the Electoral College. There are arguments on both sides and reasonable people can disagree.

NPR's Political Junkie also has a useful post about the matter in, "What To Do With the Electoral College."  You can see a poll at the end of that post as well as one at the Boston Globe's website for an interesting comparison of how the wind is blowing, depending on where you are (NPR: 51 to 24 in favor of popular vote (other options included), Boston Globe: 51 to 49 in favor of popular vote).

For those of us who supported Al Gore and Joe Lieberman in 2000 and knew that they got the most votes from individual Americans, the ire at the electoral college ran deep.  On the other hand, let's suppose American Princess and I are the presidential candidates in the general election.  And let's say that in Ohio, the popular vote goes to me, but the national popular vote tallies up to favor American Princess?  If Ohio had passed the legislation that Massachusetts just passed, then it would have to give its electoral votes to American Princess, and not me, even though more Ohioans voted for me than her.

I think there'd be some seriously unhappy Ohioans -- and I don't mean just my husband and kids -- who I'm assuming would vote for me, but hey, who knows?

How would you feel if this was what your state now says it's going to do with its electoral votes? If you are in a state that has passed this legislation (Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington), how do you feel about this possible negation of your actual ballot vote? (FYI -- American Princess is in a state that passed this legislation -- hope she finds a second to weigh in!)  

More on the American Electoral College


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