Dems Oppose California’s Electoral Vote Initiative

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Sep 21, 2007 3:43pm

ABC News’ Karen Travers: This week Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden joined three other Democratic presidential candidates in speaking out against the initiative to change California’s "winner-takes-all" electoral votes system.

In written statements this week, Obama, Clinton and Biden criticized the measure, which calls for awarding one electoral vote to the winner in each of the 53 congressional districts and then two votes to the statewide winner. John Edwards, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson have already come out publicly against the initiative.

Under the current system, the state gives all 55 electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote.

A statewide effort has been launched by Republicans to collect signatures to get the electoral votes measure on the ballot. Backers of the initiative began collecting signatures this month and need to collect 434,000 by Feb. 4.

"Republicans are trying to mislead voters for their own political gain with the so-called Presidential Election Reform Act. True election reform can only be accomplished as a nation wide effort," Clinton said. "This initiative is not reform but a blatant ploy by the Republicans to hijack electoral votes from California and it should be rejected by all fair-minded Californians."

Obama called the initiative a "divisive partisan ploy that would reduce the influence of Californians in choosing the next president."

Biden said this is "an unprecedented power grab" by the Republican Party.

"If we want to make changes to the Electoral College, we should do it across the board, not state-by-state. Otherwise, we increase the risk of the popular vote being subverted by the Electoral College result," he said.

Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that do not do a winner-takes-all system for their electoral votes.

In 2004, John Kerry won California with 54 percent of the popular vote, compared to President Bush’s 45 percent, to win all 55 electoral votes.

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