By Mark Matthews, 31 March 2006, ABC News
In the 2004 presidential election, George Bush and John Kerry didn't campaign in California, didn't buy political ads, didn't do town hall meetings. They were too busy doing all those things in a dozen or so states where the voters were more evenly divided.
In a presidential race, a small number of so-called battleground states get all the money and attention.
Barry Fadem, National Popular Vote: "I mean as we all know, if you live in a state that is not a battleground state like California, your vote doesn't count. It doesn't matter."
Lafayette attorney Barry Fadem says he's found a very simple way to make every vote in every state count.
Barry Fadem: "The president of the United States should be elected by the national popular vote."
In other words, whoever wins the most votes nationwide is the winner -- and that hasn't always been the case. Back in 2000, Al Gore got the most votes, but George Bush won the White House. Did you know that four years later, a switch of just 60,000 votes in Ohio could have cost President Bush his reelection? It could have wiped out a three million vote advantage. That's because we award the presidency not to the popular winner, but to whoever wins the vote of the electoral college.
Here's how it works. Each state counts its votes. The state's winner gets all the state's electoral votes. In California, for example, that's 55 electoral votes. The first candidate to amass 270 electoral votes is the declared the winner.
Fadem says there's a simple way to get around that electoral college system.
Barry Fadem: "We, the following state, agree that we will award all of our electoral votes to who ever wins the most votes nationwide."
If just a relatively few states could agree to award their votes to the nationwide winner, that's all it would take.
The Stanford professor who dreamed up the concept says it's completely legal.
Dr. John Koza, National Popular Vote: "The founding fathers gave the states exclusive control over how they allocate their electoral votes. There's nothing in the constitution that needs to be changed in order to have a nationwide popular election."
Dr. John Koza admits battleground states might be reluctant to change the system, but take all of them and add in the marginally close states, you still have only a relative few compared to all the safe states that would benefit from changing the system.
Dr. John Koza: "The New York Times endorsed it a week ago, the Chicago Sun Times endorsed it."
The idea is getting a lot of response.
Barry Fadem: "I would call it enthusiastic."
Attorney Fadem says there is already a bill in the California Assembly.
Barry Fadem: "By the end of 2006 we expect to have bills introduced in all 50 states."
A bill is already in California's Assembly and it's due to come up for a hearing in about three weeks.
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