Oregon Senate Has Repeatedly Blocked Legislation to Reform Electoral College

Eleven states including Washington and California have passed legislation to elect the president based on the national popular vote. Oregon has not.

The deep blue state of Oregon may have voted for Hillary Clinton, but the state legislature has failed to pass a law that could have helped make her president.

Clinton is the fourth presidential candidate in American history to win the popular vote and lose the electoral college.

A bill to award Oregon's seven electoral college votes on the basis of the national popular vote has passed the state House and died in the state Senate, repeatedly.

Senate President Peter Courtney has been the obstacle, advocates say.

"I believe that he had some initial concerns that national popular vote might disadvantage small states," says Kate Titus, executive director of Common Cause Oregon.

"However, I would suspect that after researching this more deeply, he has since learned that that is not at all the case. I would hope that he'll help provide the necessary leadership to pass this during the 2017 session, given that we've now experienced yet another election where the electoral college overrode the national popular vote."

Courtney did not respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. Constitution requires an amendment to abolish the electoral college, but it allows states leeway on how to allocate their own electoral college vote.

Thus far 11 states with 165 electoral college votes—including Rhode Island and California, representing the gamut of sizes—have passed the legislation, according to the national nonprofit National Popular Vote Inc., which is advocating for the change.

All of 11 of the states are ones that voted for Clinton this election, but the change would not go into effect until states with 270 electoral college votes pass the legislation, effectively changing the way our national elections are decided.

Oregon acting alone with its seven electoral college votes would not have made the difference. But other states, similar to Oregon—Arizona, New York and Oklahoma—have also passed it through one branch of their legislature but not the other, according to National Popular Vote Inc.

"A vote in Oregon should matter as much as a vote in Ohio and Florida," says lobbyist Justin Martin. "One, we don't talk about Oregon issues in presidential campaigns. It's all up to rust-belt states and seniors and Florida. It's frustrating to me as an Oregonian. Two, we've had two wrong-way winners in 16 years."

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