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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.

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We can and must embrace our diversity as the operating system of our nation, write the leaders of the Bridge Alliance.

Diverse people must be in every room where decisions are made

Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)

As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push — or call — society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. The stories of their personal transformation inspire us to be better individually and collectively. With this inspiration, we can and must transform our nation into a more perfect union.

As co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, we are inspired and challenged by the problems facing our country. Our 100 member organizations work daily to protect the ideals of our American Dream so we can create healthy self-governance that has never fully existed before. Our members work to harness the tension of our differences as we enact our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, balancing individual and community needs.

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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.

With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.

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