SALEM, Ore. - (Update: Adding Oregon Republican Party statement)
SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon has voted to become the 15th state to grant its electoral college votes to whoever wins the popular vote across the country.
The Oregon House sent the governor a measure to join National Vote Interstate Compact. It's a pledge between states to ignore the Electoral College and essentially overhaul the way the nation elects presidents.
The agreement would only kick in when enough states join to reach 270 electoral votes. That's the number needed to ensure the presidency.
Supporters say the current system encourages presidential candidates to focus their attention on only a handful of battleground states. They say a popular vote system would ensure that all votes are treated equally.
Gov. Kate Brown has indicated she will sign the measure.
News release from Oregon House Democrats:
The Oregon House voted Wednesday to join the National Popular Vote compact, a move that supporters say would modernize how the president is elected and ensure that every vote is counted equally. The measure now goes to Gov. Kate Brown's desk.
Currently, Oregon awards its Electoral College votes to the winner of the state's popular vote. Senate Bill 870 enters Oregon into the NPV compact and would award electoral college votes to the national popular vote winner. This becomes effective once NPV is enacted by states that cumulatively possess a majority of all electoral votes.
"This is about giving all voters in the United States, regardless of where they live, the ability to be heard in the most important of our elections," said chief sponsor Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell (D-Astoria). "Today, we make Oregon a battleground state."
Five times in the history of the United States, including twice since 2000, the winner of the presidency has not won the popular vote.
Further, supporters say, the inequity of the Electoral College system gives some votes more weight than others in electing a president.
For instance, Oregon has a population of 4 million people and receives seven electoral votes. Wyoming has a population of 586,000 and receives three electoral votes. This means that Oregon has one electoral vote per 571,000 residents while Wyoming receives one electoral vote per 195,000 residents.
The bill also seeks to ensure that candidates for president of the United States actually campaign throughout the whole United States. During the 2016 election, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign visits and ad money in just six closely divided "battleground" states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Michigan), and 94% in just 12 states.
"Oregon deserves a voice in who becomes president," said chief sponsor Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland). "Our country's electoral college system of electing our president and vice president is flawed and outdated; it is time to replace it with a National Popular Vote."
If the bill is signed into law, Oregon will join 14 other states and the District of Columbia in joining the NPV compact.
In addition to Rep. Mitchell and Rep. Keny-Guyer, the legislation was chief sponsored by Rep. Brian Clem (D-Salem), Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-Portland), Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis), Sen. Shemia Fagan (D-Happy Valley), Sen. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) and Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland). The legislation had 33 sponsors.
The bill, which passed 37-22, now goes to Gov. Kate Brown.
Statement from Oregon Republican Party:
Democrat Supermajority in State House Votes to Throw Away Oregon's Presidential Vote
Oregon GOP Condemns the "Outrageous Betrayal" of the Voters of Our State
Salem, OR – Today, the Oregon Republican Party released the following statement reacting to the passage of Senate Bill 870 (deceptively promoted as the "National Popular Vote") by the Democrat supermajority in the Oregon State House:
"Today, the power-drunk Democrat legislators in the House told the voters of Oregon that their votes for President are worthless and that our state's electoral votes will be decided by larger states," said Oregon Republican Party Communications Director Kevin Hoar. "This is an outrageous betrayal of the citizens of smaller states like Oregon, and will discourage candidates from seeking their support."
"By ramming through Senate Bill 870 Oregon's elite ruling party is saying that the voters of their own state should have less of a voice in deciding who is elected President. This is what the Democrat Party of Oregon has become in 2019, and it is pathetic."