Hertzberg supports National Popular Vote: Discusses plans to eliminate Electoral College

Article By: Derek Anderson

Author of ¡Obámanos! and senior editor and writer for The New Yorker, Hendrick Hertzberg hosted a forum in 73 Tremont Monday night, promoting the idea of National Popular Vote. Presented by Mass. Common Cause, Hertzberg spread the awareness of the National Popular Vote and what it’s all about, first explaining the idea and then allowing audience members to ask any questions they had on the bill.

The National Popular Vote bill, defined by nationalpopularvote.com, “would guarantee the Presidency to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia).” This means states, once the bill is enacted, will all have a chance on whom they elect as president. In the past, states that have their political views already decided for them have sat on the sidelines and observed elections in the swing states.

“It is a plan to ensure that a presidential election, like any other election in the United States of America, is going to be run on the basis that you vote and the one with the most votes gets the job,” said Hertzberg, as he explained the general idea of the bill. He explained that this change in our presidential election can happen without an amendment to the Constitution. According to Hertzberg and the National Popular Vote movement, a “winner take all” rule, a rule that basically allows a candidate to win the presidential election without winning the nationwide popular vote, is not in the Constitution and is subject to change.

Hertzberg then went on explain what happens every single presidential election that needs to be changed.
“Most of the country in a presidential election is a political dead zone because it does not matter what happens in the spectator states,” said Hertzberg.

According to nationalpopularvote.com, “in 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign visits and ad money in just six closely divided “battleground” states. A total of 98 percent went to just 15 states. In other words, voters in two-thirds of the states were essentially spectators to the election.”

Eventually the forum was opened for questions and Hertzberg took inquiries and comments from the audience. Some people were opposed to the bill, while others supported it, making the discussion an even split.

Pam Wilmot, the Executive Director of Mass. Common Cause, gave comment on the National Popular Vote bill and how well the forum on Monday night went.

“I think it went very well. We had a nice turnout,” said Wilmot. “The discussion was very interesting and a wide range of views were expressed. Hertzberg is a wonderful person, an incredible impressive writer, and is incredibly committed to this reform. He feels it will really transform American presidential politics and I agree. It’s a very exciting reform with wide-reaching consequences to involve more people.”

The National Popular Vote concept has not been widely brought up, but Hertzberg and Wilmot feel it’s a high possibility.
“I absolutely do think this is an achievable goal and I think this is the first time that being able to achieve that goal is in sight,” said Wilmot. “It’s not going to happen next year, but there is a credible plan to get it done by 2012.”