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Politics Notebook: National popular-vote initiative targets NM

SANTA FE – New Mexico is the top target of a group that wants the United States to elect a president based on the national popular vote – not the winner-take-all system that dominates the Electoral College.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia have signed the compact.

The interstate agreement can’t take effect until enough states have signed on to form a majority of votes in the Electoral College, guaranteeing that the winner of the national vote takes the White House.

Under the compact, each state agrees to award its electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the most votes nationwide.

Barry Fadem, president of the National Popular Vote group, said New Mexico “is our No. 1 target in the entire country” at this point.

The state has shown a willingness to embrace the idea, he said, noting that it passed the state Senate in 2017 and the House in 2009.

The legislation died in the other chamber each year, and no Republicans supported the proposal those years.

The goal, Fadem said, is to ensure everyone’s vote counts equally, regardless of where they live.

“This makes every state a battleground,” he said Thursday in an interview.

Under the current system, most states award all of their electoral votes – New Mexico has five, for example – to whichever candidate wins the race there.

That gives presidential hopefuls an incentive to focus on about a dozen battleground states where the vote could go either way. It’s possible to win the most electoral votes without actually winning the national popular vote.

Republicans George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016 each won the White House that way.

Opponents of the popular-vote idea – including Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican whose term ends this year – say the proposal would encourage presidential candidates to campaign in the most densely populated states, not smaller states such as New Mexico.

education: U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, led a meeting Thursday between the caucus and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat running for governor of New Mexico, has been at odds with DeVos on a variety of issues, including a proposal that Lujan Grisham says would weaken protections for people with student loans.

Dan McKay:


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