Initiative activist Costa files 2nd go-round of Electoral College Reform Act

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December 26, 2010

Sacramento-based ballot initiative activist Ted Costa filed the language for an Electoral College Reform Act with the Attorney General of California's office on December 7, 2010, where it is pending a ballot title and summary. The initiative may ultimately qualify for the state's 2012 ballot as an initiated state statute.[1]

If the Electoral College Reform Act qualifies for the ballot and is approved by the state's voters, it will change the way California allocates its presidential Electoral College votes. Currently, the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all 55 of California's electoral college votes. The winner-take-all system would be replaced with one that awards 53 of the state’s 55 electoral votes individually to whichever presidential candidate gets the most votes in each congressional district.

An initiative with the same objective, the California Presidential Electoral College Reform Initiative, was proposed, but ultimately did not qualify for, the state's June 2008 ballot.

According to political analyst Dan Morain, "On its face, the populist proposal would play to voters' sense of fairness and desire for competition among candidates. In reality, this initiative would be a Republican power grab with national implications. The change contemplated by Costa and other consultants could push a Republican to victory in a close presidential race."[1]

California has 53 U.S. Congressional districts. 33 are held by the Democratic Party and 20 by the Republican Party, as of the November 2, 2010 elections. The state gets 55 votes in the electoral college, 53 for each congressional seat and 2 for its 2 U.S. Senate seats.

If the Electoral College Reform Act is passed, and if voters in the state's congressional districts cast votes for U.S. President in alignment with their votes for U.S. Congress, then instead of yielding 55 electoral college votes to the country's Democratic candidate for U.S. President, the state could yield nearly two dozen votes for the country's Republican nominee.

Because of the national implications, a coalition of Democratic power-players including Thomas Steyer and Stephen Bing and led by Chris Lehane organized a group, Californians for Fair Election Reform, to oppose the 2008 effort.

See also