A California-based nonprofit launched an ad campaign Thursday against Senate President Peter Courtney in response to his repeatedly blocking legislation that would align Oregon as a presidential election popular vote state.
National Popular Vote, Inc. began running a 16-second advertisement, constructed a Facebook page and website and said it would start spreading ads on Google and Facebook. The campaign, targeted to Oregon Senate District 11, is organized under the phrase “Enough Courtney,” and repeats an image of Salem’s Democratic senator with a red circle and line over his face.
“The National Popular Vote bill passed the Oregon House in 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2017, but was killed in the Senate because of the opposition of State Senate President Peter Courtney,” John Koza, chairman of the non-partisan National Popular Vote, said in a statement.
The point of the campaign, Koza said, is to educate voters of that fact.
Courtney, meanwhile, says he supports putting the popular vote proposal in front of Oregon’s voters, a change from his position before the most recent election cycle.
“If you believe in the popular vote, then let the popular vote decide the issue. I’ve made it clear that I would support putting the issue on the ballot,” Courtney said in a statement. “If a bill to put the National Popular Vote Compact to a vote of the people comes out of committee in 2018, I’ll vote for it.”
Koza called that “an excuse” that Courtney just came up with.
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The nearly identical pieces of legislation introduced over the years would have added Oregon to a growing group of states that pledge to award their electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote.
Currently, states attached to the agreement add up to 165 electoral votes, but the law is only triggered once that number hits 270. A presidential candidate needs to receive at least 270 electoral votes to be elected to the nation’s highest office.
Proponents of the popular vote model say it’s more fair — each person gets one vote, as opposed to the current system which under-represents people in more populous states. The change would also require candidates to campaign in more states, they say. In the 2016 election, the vast majority of campaigning was confined to so-called “battleground” states, in part, because of their electoral college significance.
Opponents, however, say the popular vote system would lead to rural areas getting overlooked as candidates, seeking to maximize their time and money, focus on areas with more people.
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This debate reached new fervor after the 2016 presidential election, in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 3 million votes over President Donald Trump. Trump won more electoral college votes by a margin of 304-227.
The electoral college system was created by the 12th Amendment to the Constitution in 1804. It designates electors based on population, each state receiving electors to match the combined total of its number of Senators and Representatives. The fewest electors a state can have is three, while California has the most with 55.
Oregon has seven electoral college votes.
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