For years, Arizonans have felt ignored during the campaign for president. It feels like the candidates don’t care what we think, don’t care about our issues, and don’t bother asking for our vote. It turns out we feel that way because it is true.
The good news is that we have the power to change that, and to ensure that a voter in Arizona is as important as the voters in Ohio, Florida, and Virginia who get all of the attention and special treatment.
The U.S. Constitution gives each state legislature the power to determine how its presidential electors are chosen. The founders assumed that states would choose a method that maximizes their power and influence over the process. Yet today, most states award their electors on a “winner-take-all” basis where whoever wins the state gets all of the state’s electors. States that are reliably Republican or Democrat are simply ignored by the presidential campaigns that know there is no reason to pay attention to us or our issues.
The number of battleground “swing” states continues to shrink, from 18 a decade ago to perhaps 10 in 2012. In 2016, the number may be as small as seven. These swing states get the campaign spending, the candidate appearances, and an amazing amount of preference in policy from ruling administrations. In 2012, two-thirds of all campaign visits and expenditures went to just four “battleground” states – Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Iowa. Arizona received no campaign visits at all in the general election, from either of the presidential or vice-presidential candidates, and virtually no campaign spending. Spending their time and money on you is how a candidate shows he cares. When it comes to Arizona, they don’t care.
Which brings us to the solution. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a constitutional agreement between states that will award the electors of participating states to whichever candidate gets the most popular votes in all 50 states and D.C. That means that every voter in every state will be exactly as important as the next.
Imagine a campaign cycle where Arizona gets the attention of candidates and campaigns. Where Arizona issues like border security and federal land management get a public airing because the candidates know they have to deal with the issues that we care about.
Better still, imagine a federal government that worries about what is best for the nation as a whole, instead of forcing 40 states to pay for the largesse it showers on the 10 other states.
Eleven states with 165 electoral votes have already adopted the National Popular Vote Compact. When states with a total of at least 270 votes have adopted the compact, it takes effect.
Once we begin electing the president by a national vote, issues like our national debt and national security will finally take priority over local issues that matter to swing precincts in places like Columbus, Ohio. And the selection process for nominees will also improve. There are quite a few members of my own Republican Party who are supporting Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or John Kasich because our party needs to carry the battleground states of Ohio and Florida. All three are likely fine men, but it is absurd to have to pick our presidential nominee on the basis of their home state instead of on the basis of who would be the best president.
Arizonans deserve to matter just as much as anyone from Virginia, Ohio, Florida or Iowa. That is why I will be voting for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and I encourage Arizonans who want to matter to contact their representatives and urge them to do the same.
— Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Tucson, represents Legislative District 11.