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Former Dem, GOP chairs launch drive to change Electoral College

2016 presidential results by county in Michigan
Dennis Bratland, CC BY-SA 4.0
Wikimedia Commons
2016 presidential results by county in Michigan. Trump won Michigan's electoral vote in 2016, even though Clinton won the popular vote in the state.

A pair of former Democratic and Republican party leaders have teamed up to change how Michigan participates in the Electoral College and it could change the course of future presidential elections.

Former Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer and former state GOP chair Saul Anuzis are launching a petition drive to add Michigan to the National Popular Vote (NPV) consortium. Member states would pledge their Electoral College votes to the candidate who wins a majority of the tally of the national vote.

“The candidate with the most votes should be elected president every time,” said Brewer.

The bipartisan duo says the benefits include getting candidates to campaign in every corner of the nation instead of focusing on “battleground” states with large electoral vote hauls.

Anuzis said campaigns will quickly drop states from their candidates’ schedules if they suddenly appear out of reach.

“You could be a battleground state on one day and the next day not be a battleground state.”

There have been five US elections where the loser of the popular vote won the most Electoral College votes. Most recently, Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump in 2016 despite getting more popular votes. Trump won Michigan’s statewide vote that year by a narrow margin.

If the petition drive gathers at least 340,047 voter signatures, the initiative could either be adopted by the Legislature or it would go on the statewide ballot.

The NPV has already been adopted by 15 states and Washington DC. The compact would be activated when its membership totals the 270 or more electoral votes needed to choose a president. The tally is currently 195 electoral votes. Michigan currently has 16 votes, reflecting its 14 members of the House and two US senators.

That number will likely be reduced to reflect the state’s slow population growth in the US Census.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.