NPV Deserves a Fair Vote…and So Do We

I volunteered for Bernie Sanders. I gave Obama voters rides to the polls. I sent money to Hillary. As a kid, I pulled a Eugene McCarthy campaign wagon in Great Falls’ Pet & Doll Parade. But I voted for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, both Bushes, Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

If you voted for president in Montana, you did too.

Because Montana is “reliably red,” if you’re not a Republican, your presidential votes aren’t just uncounted—thanks to the electoral college, they’re tallied for the opposition. How does ‘double-down disenfranchising’ enhance anyone’s rights?

In theory, the electoral college helps rural states. In practice, it benefits a select few. According to Time magazine, in the last two months of the 2016 election, 87% of presidential campaign events took place in just twelve states. Neither major party candidate bothered to visit Montana—or 26 other “flyover” states.

The electoral college, formed to keep us from electing an unfit president, flunked its most recent final exam.

Let’s stop this silliness.

There’s nothing in our constitution that mandates the electoral college’s “winner take all” protocol. Through the exercise of state’s rights, National Popular Vote (NPV) simply mandates that electors are bound to support the person with the most popular votes, nationwide.

Montanans have been known to escort mealymouthed politicians to the North Dakota border, bat ‘em on their backsides, and fix the busted barbed wire behind ‘em. Like our beloved US Senator Mike Mansfield, we have a healthy respect for common sense—and a natural suspicion of ideas that take too many words to defend.

Dissertations have been written in defense of an arcane institution that has devolved to serve party loyalty. Fact is, the electoral college deprived us of a candidate who won by 2,900,000 votes. That’s more votes than there are people in Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota and Alaska, combined. The presidency was tipped by 80,000 voters in three strategic states…that’s about half the population of Yellowstone County.

A 2011 Public Policy Poll showed support for a national popular vote at 67% among Montana Republicans, 80% among Democrats, and 70% among others (the margin of error was plus or minus 3 1/2%).

Eleven states have already passed the NPV. Last week, Helena’s House Judiciary Committee tabled HB 394, which could add Montana to that tally.

NPV deserves a fair vote. So do we. Call the House Judiciary Committee, 406-444-4800. Tell them you want then to take HB394 off the table, and serve it up to the whole house, before Montana voters get forked again in 2020.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Claire Baiz

Montana native Claire Baiz attended the University of Montana and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in history and political science from the University of Great Falls. Baiz, a columnist for Signature Montana magazine, has been recently published in the U.S.A. Today, Detroit Free Press, Waukesha Now, and Earth Island Journal. Her short fiction is featured in The J.J. Outre Review and Molotov Cocktail. Baiz, a Chicago resident, has also appeared in the New York Times and New York Post.

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    Today (March 1, 2017) at 7 pm
    at the Billings Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
    at 2032 Central Ave.

    With all the political activity going on, it is important to remember that there are structural problems with the American election system. To solve the underlying (root) causes, we need to make structural changes to the system.There will be a talk about the Electoral College and how changing that part of the US constitution can decrease the power of POTUS.
    This is a part of their weekly Community Lecture Series.

    If you are in Billings, drop by and join the discussion.

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