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Bill would add Oregon to national popular-vote movement

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon could become part of a compact to ensure that the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote is elected.

This week, lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 870, which would ensure that the state's seven electoral votes are awarded to the winner of the popular vote.

The compact would go into effect once states with a majority of the electoral votes - 270 out of 538 - have signed on.

Eileen Reavey, an Oregon-based consultant with the organization National Popular Vote, said the bill previously has passed in the Oregon House of Representatives four times.

"This is just a commonsense way to make it so that every Oregonian's vote for president matters the same as if they lived in Pennsylvania, Texas or Wisconsin," Reavey said.

The bill is expected to be referred to the Senate Rules Committee soon. But in past years, Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, has killed the bill four times, saying it needs to be approved by Oregon voters at the ballot box.

Eleven states, including California and Washington, and the District of Columbia have signed on to the movement, bringing the electoral vote total to 171. Colorado also has approved, and that bill awaits the governor's promised signature.

According to National Popular Vote, 94 percent of campaign events in 2016 were in just 12 states. Reavey is convinced that presidential candidates might actually visit Oregon if the compact goes into effect.

"With a national popular vote, it would be candidates campaigning for every vote across America, so you'd really see a change in how candidates approach elections," she explained. "And also, battleground states have a 12 percent higher turnout rate. So it's very likely that turnout across the country would increase as well."

The bill has 40 sponsors in the House and Senate, including co-chief sponsor Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas (Oregon, not Texas).

With all the state's electoral votes going to Democratic candidates in eight straight elections, Boquist observed that Republican voters haven't made "one iota of difference in the outcome of a presidential election." He hopes this bill changes that.


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