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UPDATED: Group Seeks Support in N.M. for Presidential Popular Vote Plan

A national group is pushing for an elections change in New Mexico and other states to ensure the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide will occupy the White House.

A proposal by National Popular Vote calls for New Mexico to enter into a compact with other states to award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationally.

Billionaire businessman and former New York gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano visited Santa Fe on Tuesday to promote the popular vote proposal.

“How can anybody stand up in front of their constituents and say it’s OK if the candidate with the least number of votes wins,” said Golisano, a Republican who founded Paychex, a payroll services company, and was the owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres until earlier this year.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the presidential election to Republican George Bush.

The proposed system would take effect once there were enough participating states to provide the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Seven states and the District of Columbia — representing 77 electoral votes — have agreed to join the compact. The states are Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, New Jersey and Washington.

The group wants the New Mexico Legislature to consider its proposal next year, but it faces a tough assignment because GOP Gov. Susana Martinez favors the current electoral system. The governor sets the legislative agenda during 30-day sessions and Martinez’s support is needed for legislation to become law.

Most states, including New Mexico, have a winner-take-all rule in which electoral votes are awarded to the presidential candidate getting the most votes in their state.

“The current system helps ensure battleground states with independent-minded voters, like New Mexico, play a significant role in electing U.S. presidents. Currently, presidential candidates visit the state frequently and must listen and respond to the unique concerns of the state, from our national labs to our pueblos, and the governor believes that serves New Mexico well,” Scott Darnell, a spokesman for the governor, said in a statement.

Under the national popular vote proposal, Darnell said, “states with large media markets, like New York and California, would drown out the voices of New Mexicans, as presidential candidates would likely target the most densely populated states.”

But Golisano contends that more states will receive attention from candidates under the popular vote proposal and he said New Mexico’s battleground status is “a fleeting concept because it can change” in the future.

The New Mexico House approved a measure this year asking the Secretary of State’s Office to study the national popular vote proposal and submit a report to the Legislature by November. Democrats overwhelmingly supported the measure but only two of 33 Republicans voted for it.

In 2009, the House approved legislation for New Mexico to enter into the compact but no Republicans backed the bill.

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April 26, 2011 — 4:02 p.m.

A national group is pushing for a presidential election change in New Mexico to ensure the winner of the popular vote nationwide will occupy the White House.

A proposal by National Popular Vote calls for New Mexico to enter into a compact with other states to award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationally.

Billionaire and former New York gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano visited Santa Fe on Tuesday to promote the proposal, which the national group hopes will become part of the agenda of the Legislature in 2012.

The House approved a measure this year asking the Secretary of State’s Office to study the national popular vote proposal. In 2009, the House approved legislation for New Mexico to enter into the compact.

 

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