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National popular vote bill advances

Posted by: Jim Ragsdale under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota congressional, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota legislature Updated: March 3, 2014 - 1:58 PM

A bill that would allow Minnesota to join the states that want to change the way the U.S. president is elected advanced in a Senate subcommittee Monday.

The Subcommittee on Elections of the Senate Rules Committee approved the measure on a mixed voice vote, sending it to the full Rules Committee.

Sponsored by Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, the bill is aimed at having the U.S. president elected by national popular vote rather than by a vote of the electoral college. It would do so by having states agree to award their electoral college votes to the winner of the national election. Currently 48 states award all electors to the candidate who wins the most vote in that state.

Supporters say the bill would end the threat of the 2nd place finisher in the popular vote winning the presidency, such as occurred in 2000, and would ensure that candidates compete for all votes, and not just in selected “battleground states.”

Ten states have passed the National Popular Vote law, but it would not go into effect until states with a majority of electoral votes have signed on, supporters say.

Opponents on the committee questioned whether such a change would affect the way presidential elections are run. Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, a former Secretary of State, raised fears of multi-state recounts if the national election total was too close to call. Under the electoral college system, she said, such recounts are limited to a few states.

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