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Brooklyn pol wants to do away with the Electoral College

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny wants to change the way Americans elect their president. Eagle file photo

Brook-Krasny says presidents should be elected by popular vote

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

After George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, despite the fact that Gore had won the popular vote, there was a great deal of chatter across the country about getting rid of the Electoral College.

Bush won the Electoral College that year and between that and a U.S. Supreme Court decision that went in his favor, he was elected president.

And in the wake of that 2000 election, there was a grassroots movement seeking to get rid of the Electoral College system of electing U.S. presidents and replace it with a system of electing presidents strictly by popular vote.

Nothing changed and we still elect our presidents via the Electoral College.

But now, members of the New York State Legislature are speaking out in favor of dumping the system.

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Bay Ridge- Coney Island) said he recently voted in favor of a bill that calls for New York to join an inter-state compact that would award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.

The legislation has also passed the State Senate and will be delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

To date, the presidential popular vote law has been enacted by nine states and by the District of Columbia. The nine states and the district represent a total of 136 electoral votes. A candidate needs 270 Electoral College votes to be elected president.

Brook-Krasny said he favors a popular vote system because it would prevent a presidential race from being decided by a small handful of so-called “swing states” with small populations.

“It’s time to put an end to having the presidency decided by a handful of swing states,” said Brook-Krasny. “The assembly’s legislation will strengthen our democracy by ensuring that presidential candidates speak for the interests of all Americans, rather than competing for a small fraction of the votes in a few ‘battleground’ states.’” 

Under the current system, presidential candidates make calculated assumptions on how a state will vote and, therefore, concentrate their resources and political efforts on a pivotal few, Brook-Krasny said. As a result, voters in states like New York, which have historically supported one party or another, are ignored despite having a large population, he said.

A nationwide popular election can be implemented when enough states join the interstate agreement and pass identical laws awarding all of their electoral votes to the presidential candidate receiving a majority of the popular vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to Brook-Krasny.

The number of Electoral College electors in each state is based on the state’s total congressional representation in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. The District of Columbia has three electors. New York State has 29 Electoral College electors.

“Our democracy is founded on the idea that each vote represents an equal voice in our government, which is why the voices of millions of Americans shouldn’t be stifled by the outcomes of a few states’ elections,” Brook-Krasny said. “This legislation will ensure that every voice is heard and every vote is counted by awarding New York’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the majority of the national popular vote.”

But changing the system to a popular vote model wouldn’t solve the problem, according to conservativecrusader.com.

A 2010 post on the website contended that if the system was changed, then presidential elections would still be decided by a small handful of states – but they would be states with large populations like California, Texas, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Michigan. As a result, states with small populations would have virtually no say in presidential elections, according to the website.

The Electoral College exists to give all 50 states equal status in presidential elections, proponents of the Electoral College said.

March 27, 2014 - 9:00am


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