Illinois Becomes Third State to Join Agreement on Popular Vote for President

Derek Cressman, (916) 760-1534

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation today that entered Illinois into a binding agreement to elect the president using National Popular Vote (NPV). The agreement, which has also been enacted by Maryland and New Jersey, will go into effect once states representing a majority of the Electoral College join it.

“It is rare that we see such a sweeping reform move so swiftly,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar, who noted that a total of 16 legislative chambers have approved the NPV legislation in the past two years. “Legislators are clearly picking up that citizens want every vote to count equally for president and that the candidate who gets the most votes should win.”

National Popular Vote would create a more democratic system for choosing a president by changing the Electoral College’s current allocation system so that states agree to cast their electoral votes for the candidate who wins the national popular vote. By acting together, states can chose to elect the president who wins the national popular vote.

NPV legislation is on the governor’s desk in Hawaii and has passed at least one legislative body in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Vermont, and Washington state. Public opinion polls have shown roughly 70 percent of voters support direct election of the president.

“This nation is built on the principle ‘for the people, by the people.’ By signing this law, we in Illinois are making it clear that we believe every voter has an equal voice in electing our nation’s leaders,” said Governor Blagojevich. “As a U.S. Congressman, I co-sponsored a House Joint Resolution to abolish the Electoral College and to provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President. I’m proud Illinois is leading the way by joining this landmark compact that will help shape our Democracy in to future,” he added.

Unlike proposals to abolish the Electoral College though a constitutional amendment, proposed most recently by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the National Popular Vote agreement uses existing provisions of the Constitution that allow states to choose their own methods of selecting electors.

The National Popular Vote plan would go into effect once states representing a majority of the Electoral College adopt it, which is unlikely until the 2012 election. Maryland approved the plan in the spring of 2007 and it has passed both houses in California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Illinois. The idea has shown considerable momentum since being launched at a press conference in 2005.