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SJR-3 Presidential elections: electoral college.(2017-2018)

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SJR3:v99#DOCUMENT

Corrected  January 04, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Joint Resolution No. 3


Introduced by Senators Hill and Allen

December 21, 2016


Relative to presidential elections.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SJR 3, as introduced, Hill. Presidential elections: electoral college.
This measure would urge the state legislature and governor of each state to ratify the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote so that the President and Vice President of the United States are directly elected by the popular vote of all eligible citizens of the United States.
Fiscal Committee: NO  

WHEREAS, Fifty-four percent of Americans favor amending the United States Constitution to elect the President and Vice President of the United States by popular vote; and
WHEREAS, Fifty-seven percent of Californians think a national popular vote system should be used to determine the President and Vice President of the United States; and
WHEREAS, A majority of Americans have preferred a national popular vote system dating back to Ronald Reagan’s presidency; and
WHEREAS, Section 1 of Article II of the United States Constitution gives the states exclusive control over awarding their electoral votes: “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors...”; and
WHEREAS, Maine and Nebraska currently award electoral votes by congressional district, which is a reminder that the method of awarding electoral votes is a state decision; and
WHEREAS, Ten states and the District of Columbia have already adopted National Popular Vote legislation that commits them to an interstate compact to award electoral votes to the presidential slate that wins the most votes nationwide; and
WHEREAS, The states that have adopted National Popular Vote legislation are California (55 electoral votes), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Massachusetts (11), Maryland (10), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (12), totaling 165 electoral votes or 61 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to select the President and Vice President of the United States; and
WHEREAS, California adopted National Popular Vote legislation in 2011 with the passage of Assembly Bill 459, authored by then-Assembly Member Jerry Hill; and
WHEREAS, Several states have not yet adopted National Popular Vote legislation, even though a majority of their voters in recent elections cast ballots for the presidential slate that received the most votes nationwide but lost the election because of the current electoral college system; and
WHEREAS, Those states include Colorado (9 electoral votes), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Minnesota (10), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), New Mexico (5), Michigan (16), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (20), Virginia (13), and Wisconsin (10), totaling 114 electoral votes; and
WHEREAS, If the legislatures and governors of those states adopted National Popular Vote legislation, it would bring the total number of electoral votes subject to the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote to 279 electoral votes, surpassing the 270 electoral votes needed to guarantee that the presidential slate that wins the most votes nationwide is elected as the next President and Vice President of the United States; and
WHEREAS, According to nationalpopularvote.com, a federal constitutional amendment or action by Congress is not necessary to change the current method of electing the President and Vice President of the United States; and
WHEREAS, The United States Constitution gives the states the exclusive and plenary power to choose the method of awarding their electoral votes; and
WHEREAS, The shortcomings of the current system of electing the President and Vice President of the United States stem from winner-take-all statutes that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential slate that receives the most popular votes within each separate state; and
WHEREAS, The state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not found in the United States Constitution, was not debated at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and is not discussed in the Federalist Papers; and
WHEREAS, The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes was used by only three states in the nation’s first presidential election in 1789, and those states abandoned that method by 1800. The Founders were dead for decades before the winner-take-all method became the predominant method for awarding electoral votes; and
WHEREAS, The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is used today in 48 of the 50 states because it was enacted as a state statute in those states, under the same provision of the United States Constitution that empowers the states to choose the method of awarding their electoral votes and is being used to enact National Popular Vote legislation; and
WHEREAS, Winner-take-all statutes may be repealed in the same way they were enacted; namely, through each state’s process for enacting and repealing state laws. Therefore, a federal constitutional amendment is not necessary to change the state-by-state, winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes; and
WHEREAS, The United States’ current electoral college system is causing all but the battleground states to be ignored in presidential elections; and
WHEREAS, Two-thirds of the campaign events for the 2016 presidential general election, 273 campaign events out of 399 total campaign events, occurred in only six states: Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; and
WHEREAS, Two-thirds of the campaign events for the 2012 presidential general election, 176 campaign events out of 253 total campaign events, occurred in only four states: Iowa, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia; and
WHEREAS, If a national popular vote system was used, candidates would be more likely to campaign in more states based on population centers; and
WHEREAS, The following list of top media markets based on population provides an idea of the states that would receive more attention if a national popular vote system were used: Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington; and
WHEREAS, In recent presidential elections the individual receiving the most popular votes nationwide has not won the election due to the current state-by-state winner-take-all electoral college system. In the 2000 presidential general election, the winner of the electoral college received 543,895 fewer national popular votes than his opponent and in the 2016 presidential general election, the winner of the electoral college received over 2.8 million fewer national popular votes than his opponent; and
WHEREAS, Americans deserve an electoral college system that awards the Presidency and Vice Presidency to the candidates who receive the most votes nationwide, regardless of which state a voter lives in; and
WHEREAS, We are all Americans and each vote should matter equally. This represents the true meaning of democracy; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and the Assembly of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature of the State of California urges each state legislature and governor to ratify the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote; and be it further
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to each majority and minority leader in each house of every state legislature and to each state Governor.
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Heading—Introduction date.
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