Here are some points I shared with legislators this week as they considered whether to pass SB 353, the Presidential electors bill.
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By now you have already received a barrage of emails and calls against this bill.
However, this is not one of them.
As a former lawmaker who introduced similar legislation in the past, and as a director of the NC Center for Voter Education, and, more importantly, as a voter who wants my vote and your vote for President to count, please VOTE YES on SB 353 today. In brief, here is why:
You have heard various points for and against the bill.
Many opponents of SB 353 want you to believe several outright misrepresentations (at best).
Myth/Misrepresentation #1: NC has always awarded its electors using a "winner take all" method.
Answer: FALSE. NC, like many states, did not use a "winner take all" method until well into the 19th century. My thorough, accurate research - including several published articles of mine over the years - detail this.
Myth/Misrepresentation #2: Adopting any presidential elector change like in SB 353 violates the US Constitution and the intent of the Founding Fathers.
Answer: FALSE. Anyone who says the above to you is either ignorant of the Constitution (and the the process that led to its creation) or purposely misleading you. A clear, direct reading of the relevant provisions of the Constitution says that how a State chooses its presidential electors is LEFT UP TO THE STATES. In fact, presidential electors - starting with the election of George Washington - were NOT awarded on a winner-take-all basis. It was a concept that did not catch on until the 1840s and then gradually began to emerge for decades. ... In fact, by supporting SB 353 you would be what is called a "strict constructionist" of the Constitution, a conservative position that even the John Roberts/Antonin Scalia U.S. Supreme Court could not oppose!
Myth/Misrepresentation #3: SB 353 is less democratic and harms the weight of each voter's ballot for President.
Answer: FALSE. Most people do not realize that the current system of "winner take all" is not about who gets a majority of votes in NC ... it actually is who gets a "plurality" - that is, the most votes, even if many more people actually oppose the vote-leader. In other words, a presidential candidate in NC, under the current system, could get ALL of the the State's electors even if that candidate received, for example, only 33% of the vote! This is not merely a hypothetical. As recently as 1992 in NC, the current system awarded ALL of its NC electors to incumbent President George H.W. Bush (father of the current President) even though he ONLY received 43% of the votes in NC. Clinton received 42% and Perot received the balance. Compare with the elections here in NC in 1948, 1968, and 1980. ... Equally compelling is this question: Is it fair if 49.9999% of the States' voters have no electors to represent their preference for President? ... If anything, adopting SB 353 will ensure that votes are not wasted and that the awarding of our State's electors better reflects the will of our State's voters by basing it mostly upon Congressional districts. SB 353 is a bold underscoring of what our "democratic republic", or representative, form of government is all about.
Myth/Misrepresentation #4: NC has not considered this bill in recent years.
Answer: FALSE. In the late 1980s/early 1990s, a similar bill passed the NC House of Representatives. In 2001, the bill I filed on the subject passed the House Election Laws Committee. That same year, the Senate passed its version (sponsored by former Senator Howard Lee) out of the Senate.
Myth/Misrepresentation #5: SB 353 is a bill only sought by Democrats.
Answer: FALSE. As recently as 2001 forward, countless Republicans have filed and pushed similar bills in States all around the country, as well as Democrats. By my count, at least 20 States have been considering this positive election law reform in recent years.
Myth/Misrepresentation #6: SB 353 will dilute our weaken our State's role in the presidential election contest.
Answer: FALSE: To the contrary, given that we are one of the 10 largest states, presidential candidates from the major parties will flock here more than ever to visit voters and not just come by to rake up campaign cash. If Republican and Democratic presidential candidates know that several Congressional districts - and their presidential electors - are in play in NC, then they will spend more time here. Another plus: NC will have an economic benefit, probably in the many millions of dollars, by the additional spending of campaigns and supporters of candidates here. It is high time that more of our presidential candidates pay attention to NC. If we can't move up our presidential primary, then SB 353 is a welcome alternative. And it is good for business.
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Though there are many other misrepresentations being advocated by opponents, please consider the above and VOTE YES for SB 353.
It will be the best way to give voters more say in who NC actually supports for President.
Thank you for your consideration.
Former member, NC House of Representatives (1997-2004)