Salem

KPTV file photo

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon voted Wednesday to become the 15th state to grant its electoral college votes to whoever wins the popular vote across the country.

The Oregon House sent the governor a measure to join National Vote Interstate Compact, a pledge between states to side-step the Electoral College and overhaul the way the nation elects presidents. Gov. Kate Brown, who has made expanding voter access a priority, has already indicated she will sign the measure.

"It is truly disenfranchising to believe that your vote for president will mean nothing on a national stage simply because of where you live," said Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell, the Democrat who carried the bill on the floor. "Today, we make Oregon a battleground state."

The move taps into growing anger over the nation's complicated elections process that some argue doesn't always align with the will of the voters. President Donald Trump became the second Republican in five elections to win the presidency through the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote.

Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia have already signed onto the pact, which only takes effect when enough states join to reach 270 electoral votes——the threshold needed to win the White House. With Oregon's 7 electoral votes, the movement is now 74 electoral votes short of that goal.

Supporters say a popular vote would shift focus from swing states, allowing states like Oregon to receive more political attention from presidential candidates. Mitchell, from the coastal city of Astoria, said that candidates concentrate their time on only a few battleground states and ignore states like Oregon who have reliably voted for one party.

"This is about giving all voters in the United States, regardless of where they live, the ability to be heard in the most important of our elections," she said.

Governors in New Mexico, Delaware and Colorado signed legislation this year, while Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak vetoed a proposal saying the agreement could leave sparsely populated states with less of a voice.

Opponents say that the move goes against the intention of the Founding Fathers' and that scrapping the electoral college wouldn't get rid of the concept of swing states. They argue that presidential candidates would instead pay more attention to densely populated areas to secure the maximum amount of votes.

"The Electoral College ensures that we are the United States of America, and doesn't become the united municipalities of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago," said Rep. Werner Reschke, a Republican from Klamath Falls.

The compact itself is meant to bypass the Electoral College without pursuing a constitutional amendment on the federal level, which would require a two-thirds vote and ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures.

The idea's been around since 2006, and this was the Oregon House's fifth time considering joining the compact. If enacted, experts agree that the proposed workaround would face lengthy legal challenges.

Republican Rep. Bill Post said he wasn't too concerned about how Oregon lawmakers voted in this case, saying he was confident the agreement would "wither and die" once it began hitting Republican controlled statehouses.

Eileen Reavey is the Oregon consultant to National Popular Vote, the organization behind the movement. She believes that the idea is gaining traction among Republicans across the nation, noting it was able to pass at least one chamber in conservative states like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Arizona.

"This isn't going away," Reavey said. "Oregon's vote today proves that momentum is building. More than ever, people agree that a handful of voters in battleground states shouldn't drown out the voice of the rest of the country."

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Recommended for you

(5) comments

MarkoOhNo

Do that at your own peril, Oregon gov't. The people will not stand idly by if you attempt to violate our rights by circumventing the election process. This is the sort of violation which risks representatives being forcibly removed from office.

CherryAnn1000

The only reason this is an issue is because the Dims lost through the college. If they had won, we would be hearing nothing of this. Poor losers all.

Retread

I'm pretty sure they wanted to avoid a ballot vote so they decided in their own special interests. There's no doubt Brown will sign. Just like the recently passed Business Tax (Sales Tax by any other name and already voted down by the people), they didn't want the people having a say as they suspected it would not pass if We The People Of Oregon were allowed to have our say. >:-(

Kire

What ignorant fools. Now Oregonians will have almost no say in national elections. This is because our population is so small compared to Calif, Texas, NY, etc. Fools, fools, fools, fools. Nothing but a childish temper tantrum in response to Trump being elected. Fools, fools, fools, fools.

Danger 7

Who decided this? Do the People get to vote and decide or is left up to the Electoral College in our Legislative Body?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.