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Ohio would honor presidential popular vote under proposal

Posted: 12:22 PM, Apr 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-02 13:05:05-04
PHOTOS: Cincinnati votes

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's coveted 18 electoral votes would be delivered to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote under a proposal making its way toward the state's fall ballot.

The proposed constitutional amendment, whose summary language was certified Monday, would force state lawmakers to assure the powerful Electoral College's votes are delivered to whichever candidate wins the most votes nationally, rather than the most votes within Ohio.

The national popular vote winner has lost five times in U.S. history, twice since 2000. Both recent times favored Republicans. In 2000, Ohio tipped the election in favor of Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore and again in the 2016 election in favor of Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Gore won about 540,000 more votes than Bush, while Clinton won almost 3 million more votes than Trump, yet both lost the electoral vote and the White House.

A national movement has burgeoned in the wake of those elections to defy the Electoral College system and instead honor the popular vote in presidential elections. Proponents are pushing the change through ballots, Legislatures and an interstate compact signed by 14 states so far.

Abolishing the Electoral College would ultimately require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Besides delivering the presidency to a candidate who didn't win the most votes, opponents of the Electoral College system argue it gives undue power to a handful of swing states, like Ohio, where candidates focus the bulk of their money and attention.

Supporters of the Electoral College include smaller states, which fear they would be overlooked without it as candidates stuck to high-vote, high-population areas.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said backers of Ohio's popular vote amendment submitted two petitions with different summaries, each supported by the required 1,000 signatures from registered voters.

"This is an unusual tactic, and perhaps the first time it has been used," the Republican's office said in a news release.

Only one summary was deemed a "fair and truthful representation" of what the amendment seeks to do. The second was rejected, Yost said, because it left out the proposal's main impact.

"The second summary fails to note the most important piece of information for the voter: that the amendment, if adopted, could require Ohio's representatives in the Electoral College to vote for the winner of the national presidential popular vote rather than for the winner of Ohio's presidential popular vote," he said.

The amendment requires lawmakers to "take all necessary legislative action so that the winner of the national popular vote is elected President." It gives them 60 days to do so.

The measure goes next to the state Ballot Board for approval.