LANSING, Mich. — A bipartisan group is pushing to change the way we elect presidents by bypassing the electoral college.
National Popular Vote Michigan says relying on the popular vote would make elections fairer and help the country avoid situations like the 2020 election, the outcome of which former President Donald Trump and many of his supporters still dispute.
"The only office in the United States that is not elected by the majority of voters is the president of the United States, and that violates any semblance of democracy," said Mark Brewer who works as an attorney and is part of National Popular Vote of Michigan. “This is a very simple proposal that says that, going forward, the person who gets the most votes in the country becomes president. Let's get rid of all these recounts and litigation and fight and make it very, very simple. Whoever gets the most votes becomes president.”
Brewer and National Popular Vote of Michigan want to put the option to switch to the popular vote on the ballot in 2022 so Michiganders can decide.
“We have a system called the Electoral College," said Matt Grossmann, the director of Michigan State University's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. "That means that the president is elected indirectly by electors appointed by states. And although originally that was sort of a group of people who had some independent decision-making power, now what it basically means in 48 out of the 50 states is that the winner of the statewide vote gets the electors from that state.”
Under the Electoral College system, there are instances where a candidate loses the popular vote but still wins the presidency.
“In the year 2000 and the year 2016, the winner of the nationwide popular vote, who got the most votes nationally, did not win the presidential election because they got a fewer number of electoral votes," Grossmann said.
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump both lost the popular vote but were elected anyway.
“And that’s not right, that’s not what democracy look like. Every vote should equal one vote," said Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum.
Byrum and Brewer said that the effort is receiving bipartisan support.
"I think it is very telling that the former Republican Party chair and the former Democratic Party chair both support Michigan, moving to the national popular vote," Byrum said.
Right now 20 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the proposal. Together they total 195 electoral votes. The agreement to switch to the popular vote would only take effect if more states sign on and total 270 electoral votes— the number it takes to win the presidency.
“What this does is equalize the playing field, so that a voter in Michigan’s vote would be the same value as a voter in Wyoming or Nevada, Montana, you know all the smaller states," Brewer said.
In the last 20 years, the two presidents who lost the popular vote but won the election anyway were both Republicans. Fox 47 reached out to the Michigan GOP but they declined to comment.
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