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National popular vote bill headed to governor’s desk

SANTA FE — New Mexico could join a group of states in favor of using the national popular vote to decide presidential elections, under a bill headed to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk for final approval.

The Senate voted 25-16 late Tuesday to approve the measure, House Bill 55, despite vociferous opposition from Republicans.

“I do not want to be a colony of California,” Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, said at one point during the floor debate.

A national popular vote system would take effect if enacted by enough states to form a majority of the Electoral College. Under such a scenario, a constitutional amendment would not be needed to make the change, as the Electoral College would not technically be abolished.

To date, it has been approved by 12 states representing 172 electoral votes — or 98 fewer than needed for a majority.

In all, there have been five U.S. presidential elections in which the winner did not win the national popular vote. Most recently, Donald Trump, a Republican, defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election despite receiving nearly 2.9 million fewer votes than Clinton nationally.

But Trump was elected president by winning 304 of the total 538 available electoral votes, which are assigned to states based on population.

The Senate already passed a similar bill in 2017, but that year’s legislation did not pass the House.

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