Posted on May 28, 2008Thanks in part to the hard work of FairVote Rhode Island's Ari Savitzky, the Rhode Island state senate had a big day for electoral reform yesterday. It became the 18th state legislative chamber to pass the National Popular Vote plan and also approved advance voter registration, both by landslide, veto-proof majorities.
This should finally be the year for advance voter registration in Rhode Island. We think the concept that turning 16 should give you the power to register to vote will become a national norm, ideally twinned with focused voter education instruction on mechanics and the history of suffrage that will prepare people for voting when they become eligible. FairVote's Adam Fogel is doing terrific work in this area with the assistance of colleagues like Tara Young and Ekua Boateng.
As to the National Popular Vote plan, Rhode Island is a quintessential "throwaway state" in general elections, in David Broder parlance. It's a no-brainer for it to want a national popular vote where every vote is equal. Certainly it won't see any presidential campaign activity this fall. Time Magazine in its May 26th issue lists 14 states to watch -- and its the same old, same old list of battelgrounds from recent presidential elections, as detailed in our Presidential Election Inequality report. Our current system is broken in its fundamentals, and i predict the National Popular Vote plan will fix it by 2012
Already the candidates are zeroing in on the battlegrounds --likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama, for example, gave his last speech after a primary in Iowa, one of the most closely contested November 2004 states, while both Obama and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain both spent Memorial Day in New Mexico, the closest state in popular votes in both 2000 and 2004. Obama then headed for two days of campaigning in Nevada and Colorado, both projected battlegrounds after close contests in 2004. Stay tuned -- that is, if you're not one of the great majority of Americans living in 2008 "throwaway states."