Blue Oregon pledges its electoral votes to the national winner, if red states do also
Oregon is about to become the 15th state to pledge its electoral votes to the winner of the presidential popular vote.
Democratic Gov. Kate Brown says she will soon sign legislation committing Oregon to the National Popular Vote Compact. States that do so have made legally binding provisions to instruct their electors to vote for the national popular vote victor no matter the result in their states – but only once enough states to make up an Electoral College majority do likewise.
The state House approved the bill, 37-22, on Tuesday. The Senate had passed it, 17-12, two months ago.
With Oregon's seven, the compact now includes states (plus Washington, D.C.) that total 196 electoral votes. All of them, however, are currently considered part of the bedrock "blue wall" for the Democrats in presidential politics. Oregon, for example, last voted Republican in the Reagan re-election landslide of 1984.
"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 one of the bill's chief sponsors, Democratic state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell. "Today, we make Oregon a battleground state."
The countervailing views are: the Electoral College is what the founders had in mind; the system does a great job of getting candidates to spend time in all parts of the country; the smaller states do not want to lose their relatively big power over the outcome; and neither do Republicans who currently have a quite stronger electoral vote base.
With most state legislatures winding up their annual sessions, the actions in Salem look to bring progress for the popular vote movement to a pause for the rest of the year. Last week Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada vetoed a measure committing his state's six electoral votes to the cause.
The effort has gained momentum, especially in Democratic states, since Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million but won 84 more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton. It was the fifth time in history the winner of the presidency did not win the popular vote.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday three democracy reform bills focused on local redistricting, voting access and campaign contributions.
The first piece of legislation prohibits partisan gerrymandering at the local level by establishing criteria for cities and counties to use when adjusting district boundaries. While California is the largest state to use an independent redistricting commission to draw its congressional and state district maps, local districts did not have the same regulations.
More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.
In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.
Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.