New Mexico is the 15th state to join a compact system that aims to cast all its electoral votes for the winner of the national popular presidential vote, leaving the plan only 81 electoral votes shy of taking effect nationally.
Delaware joined the pact last week and Colorado in February.
A total of 15 states, commonwealths or jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, have adopted the measure for a combined 189 electoral votes.
The compact kicks in as soon as it is adopted by states possessing a combined 270 electoral votes, or a majority of the 538 electoral votes.
The New Mexico bill was signed this week by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan who said he hopes his state will gain more influence in national elections with the elimination of the “archaic” electoral system.
“Presidential candidates don’t even bother to come into the state anymore because they really don’t need to. They’ll go after states that have a large number of delegate votes and exclude New Mexico,” said state Sen. Carlos Cisneros, who co-sponsored the bill. “For us it is crucial that the election for president is predicated on popular vote rather than the traditional and historical way of doing that.”
The National Popular Vote project, which began in 2006, in effect renders the Electoral College moot, eliminating any chance that a candidate can win the presidency without winning the popular vote nationally.
New Mexico joins California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state in the compact.
The bill has been introduced in various years in all 50 states, according to NPV. It has passed a total of 37 states’ legislative chambers in 23 states, but not always with the approval of a state’s other chamber.
The push to change the electoral voting system was launched after Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 but lost the election to Republican George W. Bush in the electoral votes. The advocacy group NPV that backs the plan was organized in 2006.
In 2016, Trump won the presidential election with 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232. But Clinton won the popular vote, picking up 48.5% to Trump’s 46.4%.
Cisneros introduced the bill last year, but the legislature took it up too late in the session to pass it. He said it also failed because some lawmakers viewed it as “anti-President Trump” and a move aimed at diminishing the prospects of Republican candidates, according to CNN.
In Colorado, Republican state lawmakers argued the compact would induce candidates to bypass smaller, rural, often Republican-leaning states during their campaigns. They say Colorado, which voted overwhelmingly Democratic in the 2018 midterm elections, would be added to that “flyover” territory.
Advocates said it would force the candidates to fight for votes in more states, including solidly red states like Texas and solidly blue states like California.
The project counts politicians of both parties on its advisory board, including former senators Birch Bayh, D-Ind., Jake Garn, R-Utah; former member of congress, Tom Downey, D-N.Y., and Tom Campbell, R-Calif.
Contributing: Associated Press
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