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Arizonans should matter as much as voters in Iowa, Ohio and Florida

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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.

Rep. Mark Finchem

Rep. Mark Finchem

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.

12 comments

  1. The National Popular Vote is a horrible idea! The state of Arizona would be entering into a contractual agreement to allow the voters of other states to determine where OUR electoral votes go! It would not give Arizona a greater voice in presidential elections, it would remove our control over our own votes.

    If you think your presidential vote doesn’t matter now, just wait until it’s determined by voters from other states in the compact. The solution to a vote that candidates don’t care about is NOT to give away your vote!

  2. What Representative Finchem does not mention is that the drive to pass the National Popular Vote compact in Arizona is financed by an organization from California and coordinated here by paid lobbyists for that organization. The question to ask yourself is, why would folks from a populous state like California want Arizona to sign away our electoral votes?

    The answers is simple–because it helps them, not us.

  3. I appreciate the intent to shift the role of the Federal Government to the Constitutionally allowed roles as opposed to the myriad of pet projects it enjoys currently. I do however fail to see how further removing us from the Republic frame working would give us an measure of hope. the problems we have do not require democracy to resolve they require a refrain from democracy and a move back to the Republic.

    Let’s repeal the 17th Amendment and put the Senators back to work for the people of the state not for their own interests. Since the 17th amendment was installed we have had more debt, more wars and more corruption.

    Democracy is certainly not the answer to our ailments.

  4. All too often what appears as a good idea produces unintended consequences. This is one of those times and the results of the well meaning representatives pushing this legislation will be disastrous, not only for Arizona, but to the very fabric of our Republic.

    We all sense the frustration of a government that has lost its way and refuses to follow the rule of law. However, the NPVC will only enable those that now misuse and abuse the system to have even further control. You think your votes don’t count now? Just wait until this force this down your throats.

  5. A survey of Arizona voters showed 78% overall support for the idea that the President should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.
    By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote for President was 76% among Republicans, 82% among Democrats, and 75% among independents/others

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

    Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range – in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

    National Popular Vote did not invent popular elections. Having election results determined by the candidate getting the most individual votes is not some scary, untested idea loaded with unintended consequences.

    The National Popular Vote bill would replace state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), in the enacting states, to a system guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States.

    The bill retains the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections, and uses the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. It ensures that every voter is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

    Under National Popular Vote, every voter, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would matter in the state counts and national count.

    All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

    The Republic is not in any danger from National Popular Vote.

  6. States have the responsibility and constitutional power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election. The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to decide how they award their electoral votes for president

    A constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

    Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes would not make us a pure democracy.
    Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

    Popular election of the chief executive would not make our government more or less a republic or democracy.

    Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

  7. In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

    A survey of Arizona voters showed 78% overall support for the idea that the President should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.
    By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote for President was 76% among Republicans, 82% among Democrats, and 75% among independents/others

    Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range – in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

    Each and every one of us would have an equal vote for president

    “The bottom line is that the electors from those states who cast their ballot for the nationwide vote winner are completely accountable (to the extent that independent agents are ever accountable to anyone) to the people of those states. The National Popular Vote states aren’t delegating their Electoral College votes to voters outside the state; they have made a policy choice about the substantive intelligible criteria (i.e., national popularity) that they want to use to make their selection of electors. There is nothing in Article II (or elsewhere in the Constitution) that prevents them from making the decision that, in the Twenty-First Century, national voter popularity is a (or perhaps the) crucial factor in worthiness for the office of the President.”
    – Vikram David Amar – professor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the UC Davis School of Law. Before becoming a professor, he clerked for Judge William A. Norris of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for Justice Harry Blackmun at the Supreme Court of the United States.

    Last I knew, over 90% of the contributions supporting the National Popular Vote effort have come—in about equal total amounts—from Tom Golisano, who has funded about 45% of National Popular Vote, is a pro-life, registered Republican businessman , living in Florida, and a founding member of the Independence Party of New York who ran on its ticket for governor of New York in 1994, 1998 and 2002, and John R. Koza who is a pro-choice, registered Democratic businessman residing in California. He is the originator of the National Popular Vote plan.

  8. National Popular Vote would give Arizona a greater voice in presidential elections
    The political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows, is that when and where every voter is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

    Arizona is politically irrelevant in presidential general elections now.

    In 2012, in Arizona, there were no campaign events and only $40,350 was spent on TV ads after the conventions.

    Iowa- $51,423,030 and 27 events.
    Ohio – $148,000,000 and 73 events.
    Florida – $175,776,780, and 40 events.

    All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC), not from just other states in the compact.

    Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to the handful of ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    In 2004: “Senior Bush campaign strategist Matthew Dowd pointed out . . . that the Bush campaign hadn’t taken a national poll in almost two years; instead, it has been polling [in the then] 18 battleground states.”
    There were only 10 battleground states in 2012.

    Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer acknowledging the reality that [then] more than 2/3rds of Americans were ignored in the 2008 presidential campaign, said:
    “If people don’t like it, they can move from a safe state to a swing state.”

    Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    “Battleground” states receive 7% more federal grants than “spectator” states, twice as many presidential disaster declarations, more Superfund enforcement exemptions, and more No Child Left Behind law exemptions.

    Compare the response to hurricane Katrina (in Louisiana, a “safe” state) to the federal response to hurricanes in Florida (a “swing” state) under Presidents of both parties. President Obama took more interest in the BP oil spill, once it reached Florida’s shores, after it had first reached Louisiana. Some pandering policy examples include ethanol subsidies, Steel Tariffs, and Medicare Part D. Policies not given priority, include those most important to non-battleground states – like water issues in the west.

  9. Fighting over the ill gotten spoils of the Federal Government does not seem like the good or right fight to me. The Federal Government is beyond sanity at this point. Lobbying future candidates for money they will never have unless is it fabricated is just antithetical to good government.

    Once we repeal the 17th Amendment we can have voice in the Senate again.

    The office of President was never intended to be this powerful nor this sought after.

    To contend that by shifting from a State by State electoral vote process to a national popular vote would somehow make us more of a Republic is ludicrous. Delegates are free to vote their conscience as are the electors of the state. The electors of the state are voted into office, they do not magically appear they have the full faith and support of their electorates to discharge their duties and to uphold their oath of office.

    IF we are to really restore the republic why not focus on repealing the 17th Amendment?

    Surely we can all agree that that is the most damaging accord to states rights and importance.

    Coaxing and working would be presidents to care more about our local issues is just silly to me. We should be focused on resolving our own issues and repealing the 17th amendment.

    Lastly relying on polls is also insane. We have a Legislative body with a 9% approval rating and a 95%+ reelection rate. Cognitive Dissonance anyone?

  10. Surely most Americans have no interest in repealing the 17th Amendment.

    With the National Popular Vote bill, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80%+ of the states, like Arizona, that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    During the course of polling, organizing, visiting, and spending on ads, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states.

    States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states.

    In a nationwide election, as in statewide elections for governor and U.S. Senators, and elections for President in battleground states, candidates would campaign everywhere in proportion to the number of votes.

    There would not be battleground states. So there would not be continued incentive to make policies important to the citizens of battleground states more highly prioritized than policies important to ‘non-battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    The electors are and will be dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    With National Popular Vote, the 270+ dedicated party activist electors in the enacting states, will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC) meeting, as usual, in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges to elect the President.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).

  11. Not having an interest in repealing the 17th Amendment pretty much tells me everything I would need to know about your intentions. It is one of the most damning additions or perversions to the Republic we have ever seen.

    Rubber stamping is not the intent of the founders, in fact I think it was the intent to disallow rubber stamping.

    Why have an electoral college if it’s just for ceremonial sake? Talk about facade-filled waste.

  12. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).

    Read more: http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2016/02/15/arizonans-should-matter-as-much-as-voters-in-iowa-ohio-and-florida/#ixzz40Y1G8QPe

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