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Call to lessen Electoral College's role renewed

// Published October 13, 2008 in The Providence Journal

With less than a month to go before the November presidential election, legislators have renewed their calls for changes to the Electoral College system, saying it’s the best way to increase Rhode Island’s relevance in the campaign process.

Since the end of the primary season this spring, neither presidential candidate has visited the Ocean State.

“Just a couple of states to our north, the campaigns are showering unprecedented attention on New Hampshire’s electorate,” Sen. Daniel Connors, D-Cumberland, said in a statement. “... A vote in Rhode Island should be worth as much as a vote in a swing state. In a democracy like ours, every vote should be equal.”

In just one week this month, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain spent a total of $514,000 on television ads in New Hampshire, according to figures from FairVote Rhode Island. During the same period, they spent nothing in Rhode Island.

Rep. Donald Lally Jr., D-Narragansett, said the state deserves more attention — and more respect — on the national stage.

This spring, Lally and Connors sponsored legislation that would have allowed Rhode Island, with four electoral votes, to join a national compact of states that commit their electoral delegates to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of who carries each state. The measure would kick in only if states representing a majority of the nation’s 538 electoral votes decide to make the same change.

The bill was passed by the General Assembly, but was vetoed by Governor Carcieri.