Where does Iowa stand in the national popular vote debate?

Published: Jan. 2, 2020 at 7:02 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KAIT/GRAY DC) - Five times in American history, the winner of the popular vote lost the presidency.

One group is trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“The current system is fundamentally flawed," said Patrick Rosenstiel, referring to the Electoral College.

Rosenstiel works for a group advocating for states to adopt the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. It requires states to award their electoral votes to the candidate that wins the most votes nationwide, not the winner of their state. Sixteen state legislatures have adopted the compact so far, totaling 196 electoral votes. It needs 74 more electors to take effect.

“If you’re tired of being ignored in presidential elections because you live in a fly-over state…national popular vote is in the best interest of you as a voter," said Rosenstiel.

This growing movement isn’t moving everywhere -- like in the battleground state of Iowa. It’s been ten years since legislation to join the compact was introduced there, and it went nowhere.

Democratic State Representative Jennifer Konfrst is thinking about authoring a new bill.

“When someone’s running for president, and they’re making decisions about…what states to help, what states to visit, we want to make sure they’re visiting all the states," explained Konfrst.

But Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate believes it would have the opposite effect.

“We would be a state they wouldn’t spend anytime coming to, because they would say, ‘Let’s go to LA, let’s go to New York City because that’s where the votes are at,'" explained Pate.

The creation of the Electoral College is in the Constitution. For Pate, that’s reason to keep it as-is.

“I think our founding fathers had the right idea," he said. "They wanted to make sure the president was going to be supported nationwide, and not just in the largest colony.”

But the Constitution leaves appointment of electors to the states -- which is where we’ll see how this debate plays out.

For more information, here’s more about the national popular vote movement, or to read Pate’s op-ed opposing it.

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