New Jersey Legislature Approves Plan to Change Presidential Elections

Contact: Derek Cressman

The New Jersey Senate today approved a plan to join other states in using the National Popular Vote to elect future presidents of the United States. Once adopted by other states, this plan would ensure that the candidate who wins the popular vote in all 50 states would be elected president.

“Electing our President using the national popular vote makes sense,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “It would ensure that every person’s vote counted equally and that our leaders would be accountable to the nation as a whole, not just voters in a handful of swing states.”

The New Jersey Assembly approved the plan on Dec. 13, and Gov. John Corzine is expected to sign it.

Four times in U.S. history, most recently in 2000, the candidate who placed second in the popular vote was elected president. The U.S. Constitution gives each state the authority to choose for itself how to select its presidential electors. Under the National Popular Vote plan, states would join a binding agreement to allocate all of their electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes in all 50 states.

The National Popular Vote plan will 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, and Illinois. The idea has shown considerable momentum since being launched at a press conference in 2005. The National Popular Vote bill has a total of 366 legislative sponsors in 47 states.

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