“It is the lack of choice in presidential politics which is alienating the young and driving large segment of the voting population into the streets to express themselves. We have proven that public opinion can drive a President out of office, but we cannot elect a President of our choice.
What is needed to give all individuals and minorities a chance to express an opinion in secret ballot is a direct preferential vote for president…I speak for the direct preferential method because I believe strongly that in the democratic processes which place sovereign power with the people. This is an issue which has concerned me since suffrage days in Montana. Americans have always believed that just government rests on the consent of the governed.”
So wrote Jeannette Rankin in the 1970s when the House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill calling for the direct election of the President of the United States. Rankin described the direct preferential vote for president as a system in which “…the voter would have one vote that would express his first, second, third, fourth, fifth choices for President. The mechanics would be the same for 5, 10, or 15 candidates. If his first choice candidate loses out in the count, his vote may count towards his second choice. If his second choice does not poll a majority, his vote would count toward his third choice, and so on.” Rankin went on to argue that “the vote is not as valuable as it should be so long as the voter must choose between candidates who have been picked for him and who may or may not express his interests and ideals. The citizen’s duty to vote receives much emphasis in our society, but, without free choice of candidates, voting becomes an empty act, a meaningless mass ritual of acceptance and conformity.”
We have an opportunity to start down this road away from the Electoral College and toward direct election of the President this week in the Montana legislature. House Bill 394, introduced by Willis Curdy, House District 98 (Missoula county) proposes that Montana join the National Popular Vote Compact, an agreement among a group of U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their respective electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Compact goes into effect once enough states adopt the compact to equal or exceed 270 electoral votes. Currently 10 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Compact, which together account for 165 electoral votes. If Montana passes HB 394, Montana’s three electoral votes would be part of the Compact.
HB 394 is scheduled for a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today, February 9, at 8:00 am. If you favor direct election of the president, let the committee know today or tomorrow that you want them to support HB 394. Go to the legislative website below:
Fill in your information at the top.
Highlight the “Committee” button, then from the committee menu select “House Judiciary”
Select bill type “HB”
Enter Number “394”
Select the “Vote For” button
Enter text from these talking points:
1. The Electoral College is an outdated mechanism that is no longer needed.
2. It undermines democracy when the person elected to be the President does not have the support of the majority of the voters.
We will keep you informed on HB 394 progress and other key times to contact your representatives in Helena.
Sincerely, Nancy Leifer