|Nelson bill would abolish Electoral College|
|Posted: 06/06/08 05:18 PM [ET]|
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College on Friday, less than a week after the Democrats settled on how to handle delegates from Florida at their national convention.
Nelson had announced he would offer the legislation in an address to his state’s senate in March.
Nelson said his principal argument for making the change is that the Electoral College permits a candidate with fewer votes nationally to win the presidency by capturing narrow victories in big states. In 2000, then-Vice President Al Gore won the popular votes but George W. Bush won the Electoral College.
Nelson cited that election along with this year’s contentious Democratic primary in Florida as reasons for his legislation. He sued the DNC last fall for initially refusing to recognize Florida’s full delegation at the Democratic National Convention.
Democrats on Friday decided to give each of Florida’s delegates a half-vote as a penalty for moving their primary ahead on the calendar without party approval. The move created a mess for the party after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whom Nelson supported, won the primary. The result was disputed because candidates had avoided campaigning in the state.
Legislation to abolish the Electoral College is not entirely foreign to the 110 Congress. Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) introduced similar amendments in the House in early 2007.
The second part of the initiative would establish rotating, interregional primaries between March and June during a presidential election year as an alternative to the current primary and caucus system. The third portion would permit early presidential voting nationwide, require voting machines to produce a verifiable paper record, and encourage voting by mail, among other things.