Should the popular vote decide the president in Ohio?

Posted at 6:50 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-01 09:19:49-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As Hillary Clinton’s popular vote margin over President-elect Donald Trump surpasses 2.5 million votes, one state lawmaker is fed up with the system.

"I think we’ve seen, in the last 16 years, the will of the people hijacked twice by the electoral college. And that’s enough," Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, said. "If we’re going to have a true democracy, the person who gets the most votes should be the president of the United States."

In two of the last five presidential elections, the winner of the popular vote has not managed to secure a victory in the Electoral College -- and has lost the presidency as a result. It happened to Al Gore in the year 2000, and it has now happened to Clinton.

That's why Leland said he is planning to introduce a bill that would make Ohio a part of National Popular Vote Compact, a coalition of states that have agreed to commit their electoral votes to the national popular vote winner in future presidential elections.

This compact would only go into effect if states with a combined total of 270 or more electoral votes agreed to the compact. Only 10 states and the District of Columbia (making up 165 electoral votes) have signed on.

"We have a very good system that’s functioning well in this country right now," Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said. “(The Electoral College) is serving us well, and we ought to be very careful before we change it."

By going to a system relying on the national popular vote and replacing the traditional electoral college system, there could be "thousands" of fraudulent votes that could sway an election due to the way voting requirements are different in each state, Husted said.

Husted claims California's practice of not requiring an ID to vote could lead to many fraudulent votes, which, instead of affecting just the election for California’s electoral votes would affect the entire national election.

A study by the Loyola University back in 2014 though found only 31 cases of voter fraud out of a billion votes cast in nationwide elections.

Ohio would also become less significant in presidential elections because candidates would visit more populous states like California and New York, Husted said.

But Leland doesn’t believe that would happen.

"Ohio has one of the largest state populations in the country, and I think Ohio would have a disproportionate advantage if we went to the national popular vote system," Leland said.

Ohio is the seventh most-populated state in the country, according to U.S. Census data.

Leland said he doesn’t expect his bill to become law before the end of the year -- his primary goal is to start conversation about the topic among lawmakers. He said he plans to re-introduce a similar bill in 2017.

Liam Niemeyer is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. You can reach him at