Oregon bill granting electoral college votes to national popular vote winner heads to governor's desk

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Oregon lawmakers on Wednesday sent a bill that would have their state's electoral votes reflect the will of the nation, not just the people of Oregon, to the...

Posted: Jun 6, 2019 3:39 AM
Updated: Jun 6, 2019 3:48 AM

Oregon lawmakers on Wednesday sent a bill that would have their state's electoral votes reflect the will of the nation, not just the people of Oregon, to the governor's desk.

By a 37-22 vote Tuesday, the Oregon House passed SB 870, which would grant the state's electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

The measure passed the state Senate in April by a 17-12 vote, and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's office has indicated that she will sign the bill into law.

"It has to go for legal review, but we anticipate that she will sign it," Brown's deputy press secretary Nikki Fisher told CNN Wednesday, citing Brown's support of a national popular vote since her time as secretary of state.

The governor has five days to consider the bill upon receiving it from the legislature, but has not been notified as to when she will receive it, Fisher said.

Should Brown sign the bill, Oregon would be the 15th state to allocate its electoral votes in this way. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state and the District of Columbia have all joined the pact.

The agreement established by the states' laws will go into effect only if the cumulative total of the states' electoral votes surpasses the 270 necessary for a majority. The most recent addition, New Mexico, put the total at 189 electoral votes, and Oregon's seven electoral votes would clock in for a total of 196.

John Koza, chairman of National Popular Vote, Inc. -- the group that is backing the effort, argued that the measure would amplify Oregonians' votes.

"The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would make every Oregon voter more powerful in electing a president," Koza said in a statement. "This is the constitutionally conservative way to ensure that every voter in every state is politically relevant in every presidential election while preserving the Electoral College."

But not all states have responded positively to the proposal. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak opted last week to veto his state's bill granting electoral college votes to the national popular vote winner that had passed both the state Senate and Assembly. After a similar bill passed the Maine Senate last month, the measure failed in the state's House last week.

The Electoral College effectively results in voters casting ballots not for their desired presidential candidates, but for 538 electors who in turn select candidates. The mechanism clinched President Donald Trump the 2016 presidential victory despite Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.

And the issue has already reached the 2020 race. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said during a CNN town hall in March that she supported doing away with the electoral college.

"My view is that every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College -- and every vote counts," the Massachusetts senator said. Other candidates have since taken up the same position.

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