A move to add Minnesota to the National Popular Vote Interstate compact was blocked in a Republican controlled House committee on a 6-10 party-line vote on Thursday.
The compact, which has the support of 10 states and the District of Columbia, commits the states to cast their electoral college votes for whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. The compact would go into effect when the electoral votes of its members totals 270 or more — the number needed to elect a president.
Rep. Glen Gruenhagen (R) argued against the proposal calling it “mob democracy.” He told the House Government Operations and Elections committee “Mob democracies according to our founding fathers soon crashed and burned as the larger groups of people exploited the smaller groups. We need to stick with the electoral college and we need to oppose such things that undermine it like the national popular vote.”
The National Popular Vote proposal was offered as an amendment to Gruenhagen’s election bill. After House Republicans blocked the amendment on a party line vote the bill was held over in committee to be possibly included in a larger elections omnibus bill.
“If House Republicans are truly concerned that the President of the United State of America should be elected by the people they need to support the National Popular Vote initiative,” said Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL) in a press release. Freiberg was the one who had offered the amendment. “Unfortunately, what House Republicans are proposing would only move Minnesota from likely being a swing-state sought after in presidential elections to being completely ignored by future presidential candidates.”
Bill to split Minnesota’s electoral votes would give more of them to Republican candidates
The committee was considering Gruenhagen’s bill that that would change how Minnesota awards its electoral votes from a winner take all method to instead be awarded by congressional district. The overall winner of the state’s popular vote would get only two electoral votes instead of the current 10. Several representatives expressed concerns because it would give future legislatures incredible influence over how Minnesota awards it electoral votes because they could draw congressional district lines to favor one political party over the other. The proposal has the support of House Speaker Kurt Daudt. However Governor Mark Dayton has said in the past that he would not sign election legislation that does not have broad bi-partisan support. So far it has little if any DFL support.
“Voters should pick their elected officials; politicians shouldn’t be allowed to pick their voters,” said Freiberg. “Legislation like this gives even more reason to create heavily gerrymandered districts
and gives more power to those who already have it. I offered House Republicans an opportunity to let voters truly pick their president, it is disappointing that they passed on an opportunity to allow one person to have one vote.”
Below: audio of the entire House Government Operations and Elections committee hearing on Gruenhagen’s bill from January 26, 2017.