Lawmakers Consider Change to Casting of Electoral College Votes

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

State lawmakers are considering legislation to pledge Alaska’s Electoral College votes every four years to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular election.

Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington and the District of Columbia have already agreed to cast their electoral votes for the nationwide winner by joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Senate Bill 39 would sign Alaska onto the agreement.

Bill sponsor Anchorage Democrat Hollis French says if enough states join, it would ensure a vote of the people decides who is elected president.

The six states to join so far represent 74 Electoral College votes. To take effect the agreement needs the support of states representing 270 votes. Several other state legislatures are considering it. French says interstate agreements are a fairly common practice.

Supporters say the agreement would force presidential candidates to focus on more than just a handful of battleground states. Former Minnesota State Representative Laura Brod was invited to testify on SB 39 at a hearing today in the Senate State Affairs committee. The Republican introduced similar legislation in that state last year. And while it didn’t pass, Brod says Minnesota voters share many of the same concerns about presidential elections as Alaskans.

Several Alaskans identifying themselves as conservative or Republican voters also testified in favor of the legislation Tuesday.

The bill was held in State Affairs for another hearing.

Anchorage Senator Bettye Davis introduced the same bill last session, but it failed to pass. French’s bill has one co-sponsor, Anchorage Republican Lesil McGuire.

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