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Michigan House passes national popular vote legislation in the wake of Big Three bailout snub

12/16/2008
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 2008
CONTACT: Austin Guest, aguest@progressivestates.org, 212.680.3116 x 110

MICHIGAN HOUSE PASSES NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE LEGISLATION IN WAKE OF BIG THREE BAILOUT SNUB

Bi-partisan vote signals a state GOP wary of being ignored by national leadership

Lansing, MI - Last Thursday, in a 65-36 vote, the Michigan House of Representatives passed HB 6010, a bill that would enter the state into an interstate compact to de facto abolish the Electoral College by ensuring that the winner of the national popular vote becomes president.

The vote, which came on the same day the US Senate voted against a proposed bailout of the Detroit-based auto industry, highlighted a growing rift between the national GOP leadership, which rallied opposition to the bailout, and Republican legislators in Michigan.

According to Nathan Newman, Policy Director of the Progressive States Network, a national policy group that works to promote the National Popular Vote Compact (NPV), the yes vote is a telltale sign of the impact of national party leadership ignoring their base in non-swing states.

“When you’ve got a system that encourages the presidential candidates to ignore all but a handful of swing states in the presidential election, national-level policies aren’t going to reflect the interests of folks on the ground. And sooner or later those folks are going to get upset.”

In the weeks preceding the bailout vote, much speculation had surrounded the likelihood that a Republican Party with increasingly safe majorities in the South would come down against rescuing an auto industry based in Michigan, which has emerged as a safely Democratic state in recent presidential elections.

Shortly after the election, Steve Lombardo opined, “It may be that Republicans begin to write off Michigan." More recently, William D. Zeranski, of the popular rightwing American Thinker argued, "We know which way those 17 Electoral College votes will go. So, how does helping bailout the Big Three help the GOP?"

One of the purposes of the NPV legislation is to prevent the possibility of this kind of regionally divisive payback. According to Democratic Majority floor leader Steve Tobocman, HB 6010 “will discourage candidates from ignoring so-called ”˜fly-over’ states. John McCain bailed out of Michigan and Barack Obama pulled out of North Dakota for one reason: those electoral votes were out of reach.”

Michigan’s vote to buck the “fly-over” trend puts them in the company of a growing movement of states to institute a national popular vote. Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Hawaii, who have already ratified the NPV Compact, and to date, over twenty-two legislative chambers have voted in favor of the agreement between the states.

According to Newman, “Nobody likes to see their states and their issues ignored. As we’ve seen in a number of states and now in Michigan as well, people want to make sure that candidates have to fight for every vote in every state so that their parties never have an excuse to ignore them.”

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