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Will NM Be Next State to Embrace National Popular Vote?

States that have passed bills to support the National Popular Vote since 2005 hold 172 electoral votes of the 270 needed for implementation. (Twenty20)
States that have passed bills to support the National Popular Vote since 2005 hold 172 electoral votes of the 270 needed for implementation. (Twenty20)
February 15, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico could become the 12th state to get behind the National Popular Vote idea if approved by the state Senate and signed by the governor.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the U.S. Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Barry Fadem, spokesman and consultant for the group National Popular Vote, says because presidential candidates need to win the Electoral College, they only campaign in a handful of battleground states – making the others, such as New Mexico, politically irrelevant.

"Under the current system, New Mexico has no influence, does not play any role in the presidential election and is totally ignored,” says Fadem. “Under National Popular Vote, we believe it will be a 50 state campaign, and every vote in every state will count."

House Bill 55 passed in the House with a vote of 41 to 27. It's now in the state Senate Rules Committee.

Opponents of the National Popular Vote idea say it would make winning elections even tougher for third-party candidates.

In addition to New Mexico, the bill is making its way through the legislative process in Colorado this year. University of Colorado Political Science Professor Ken Bickers believes the National Popular Vote could increase turnout for presidential elections if more voters feel they have a stake in the outcome.

"This would probably lead to greater voter turnout in states that are currently ignored, because there would be an effort by both parties to get people out to vote, because it would no longer be 51 contests," says Bickers.

Fadem contends if implemented, a popular vote could also have a big impact on young voters who feel disenfranchised.

"If they don't vote in that first presidential election once they're eligible, they are very unlikely ever to vote,” says Fadem. “So, we need to do better job about voter participation, and we believe the National Popular Vote proposal will do exactly that."

Maryland was the first state to join the Interstate Compact in 2007, followed by California in 2011.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story said the bill would “sidestep the electoral college.” To the contrary, the National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM