Minn. Bill Would Dump Electoral College For National Popular Vote

Updated: 02/21/2013 7:15 PM KSTP.com By: Stephen Tellier

Minnesota's vote for president could be changing in the future. 

Some lawmakers want to make us the 10th state to dump the Electoral College and go with a popular vote - provided other states follow suit.
Five Eyewitness News visited a political science class at Hamline University, where world politics are the curriculum. But a new bill could change the electoral equation students learn.
"People will be under the impression that their vote will count more," said Claire Otradovec, a sophomore.
"I think it would really hurt local politics," said Zachary Knudson, another sophomore.
The bill, introduced in the State Senate on Thursday, would grant all of Minnesota's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The law would be triggered only after states representing more than half of the nation's electoral votes pass it.
Eight states and Washington, D.C., have done so, representing only half of the necessary electoral votes. But it has passed at least one committee in 22 other states in recent years.
And now, Minnesota lawmakers are mulling it over.
"This would be a way to switch to the direct popular vote choosing the president, without actually altering the Constitution," said Joe Peschek, chair of the political science department at Hamline University.
Peschek said it has the potential to change presidential politics. Right now, campaigns are concentrated on swing states, but a national popular vote could ensure that all votes carry equal weight.
"In that sense, it could be seen as more democratic," Peschek said.
It could also mean more campaign stops in Minnesota.
But opponents, and at least one Hamline student, argue campaigns would then focus only on the biggest cities, where the most votes are.
"I think that we would probably see less of campaign visits here," Knudson said.
Some also see the Electoral College as a source of American pride, and are hesitant to change a system in place for more than two centuries.
"A lot of the times, people jump on the train with a new idea and they don't really evaluate the situation," Otradovec said.
Democrats generally favor this idea more than Republicans, largely because of the 2000 election, when Al Gore won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College. But the Minnesota bill has five co-authors -- three DFLers and two Republicans.