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Bill to join National Popular Vote pact sent to House floor

 Representative Carrie Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor) stands in the Capitol building among other sitting lawmakers and staff
Rick Pluta
Representative Carrie Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor) sponsored a bill to add Michigan to a compact that would automatically deliver the state’s electoral votes in presidential elections to the winner of the national popular vote.

A state House committee voted Tuesday for a bill to add Michigan to a compact of states that would automatically cast their presidential elector votes for the winner of the national popular vote.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would have been elected president in 2016 instead of Republican nominee Donald Trump under the National Popular Vote Compact. That’s one of five times in U.S. history that the candidate who got fewer votes won the presidency.

Supporters say the current electoral college system leads candidates to ignore states that carry few electoral votes or are solidly Democratic or Republican.

“Right now, we have a election of the battleground states of America, not the United States of America,” Representative Carrie Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor), the bill sponsor, said. "I think we need to make sure the presidential candidates campaign in every state and earn every vote.”

The bill was adopted by the House Elections Committee on a 6-2 party-line vote and sent to the House floor.

Representative Neil Friske (R-Charlevoix) is part of a group of GOP lawmakers who issued a statement opposing the bill following the committee vote. He told Michigan Public Radio that he thinks the compact would give outsized power to the biggest states.

“The Electoral College is by far the most fair way for states like Michigan and more remote parts of the country to have representation,” he said. “We don’t need California and New York making all our decisions for us.”

The compact has been adopted so far by 16 states and the District of Columbia. Those add up to 205 electoral votes. The compact would take effect once enough states comprising an electoral college majority of 270 votes joins – although there would almost certainly be legal challenges to an effort that would upend how the President is chosen.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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