Ga. Lawmakers’ Lean Toward Popular Vote On Hold – For Now

John Bazemore / Associated Press

Why does the United States choose presidents based on the electoral college? That question was raised by Georgia lawmakers on both sides of the aisle well before Donald Trump’s victory.

University of Georgia political science chair Charles Bullock said Georgia doesn’t get a whole lot of attention during presidential elections.

“Hillary Clinton never came here, and Donald Trump didn’t come here after, I think, June,” he said. “We got very little attention, although in the grand scheme of things, we’re relatively competitive. Trump wins the state by 5.2 percentage points, which is pretty close.”

Clinton did make campaign stops in Georgia ahead of the state’s March 1 primary, but none in the final days of the election.

There was a moment earlier this year where all this might have gone a different way. Some Georgia lawmakers had introduced the idea of joining onto something called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

The idea is that if enough states get together and comprise a majority of the 538 total electoral votes, presidential electors in those states would agree to cast votes for whoever wins the national popular vote.

“Most people think the person who gets the most votes ought to win. That is the right solution whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” said Ray Haynes, an advisor to a non-partisan group that advocates for the popular vote compact.

In Georgia, since the election, two of the Republican sponsors who had supported joining the compact have backed away from the idea.

Haynes said that’s to be expected.

“Of course, the Republicans naturally are going to say: my team won. I defend my team,” he said. But he insists it’s just a matter of time and education to get lawmakers on board again.

Bullock’s not so sure.

“The electoral college right now benefits Republicans,” said Bullock.

He doesn’t expect that to change before the next presidential election.

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