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Vt. Senate endorses popular vote proposal - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Senate endorses popular vote proposal

Montpelier, Vermont - February 22, 2011

Presidential politics in Montpelier Tuesday, where the state Senate voted to change the way the Electoral College works.

In 2010, senators said the Electoral College must vote the same way as the nation does following the popular vote.

The bill approved by the Senate would have Vermont follow six other states in promising that if enough states agree, they'll have their Electoral College members vote for the winner of the national popular vote, rather than the winner of the electors' home states.

"It's ironic in the most important contest that we ever engage in in a nation we would allow the person who comes in second to be the winner," said Sen. Anthony Pollina, D-Washington County.

"Do we force Vermont voters based on the decision of this body to cast our votes for someone other than the person that Vermont voters have voted for?" asked Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin County.

Those are the competing arguments voiced on the floor of the Senate Tuesday on the issue of electing a president.

Right now, the Electoral College decides presidential races with electoral votes committed to the candidate who wins in each state. In 2000, George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore, but won the election with the electoral vote.

Under the proposal endorsed Tuesday by the state Senate, Vermont's three electoral votes would be committed to the winner of the nationwide popular vote.

Critics say the change would ultimately give small states like Vermont less say in choosing a president.

"What happens if Sarah Palin wins the national popular vote in 2012, but Vermonters overwhelmingly vote for Barack Obama? Are Vermonters going to be as happy with a national popular vote change when it comes to a concrete situation like that," said Tony Gierzynski, a political scientist at UVM.

Experts we spoke with said another implication is that presidential candidates would have less incentive to campaign in smaller states, traveling to those with larger populations instead. The bill is also expected to pass the House and does have the support of Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont. The Legislature has tried to pass this legislation twice before, but it was opposed by Governor Douglas.

Vermont would be the seventh state to adopt it. But many more states would need to sign on before the change would take effect.

Melinda Davenport - WCAX News

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