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My View: Candidate with most votes should win

Existing state “winner-take-all” statutes award 100 percent of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state.

Because of that, candidates do not campaign in a state like Oregon where the statewide outcome is a foregone conclusion. In 2012, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama campaigned in only 10 “battleground” states. Closely divided Iowa received 27 of the 253 general-election campaign events, while Oregon (more populous than Iowa) got none.

The winner-take-all rule distorts governance by presidents of both parties. “Battleground” states receive 7 percent more presidentially controlled grants than “spectator” states, twice as many presidential disaster declarations, more Superfund and No Child Left Behind exemptions, and innumerable policy concessions.

In four of our nation’s 57 presidential elections, the winner-take-all rule has elected candidates who lost the national popular vote.

Dividing Oregon’s electoral votes proportionally (as proposed in Every Vote Counts: Winner-take-all voting leaves some without voice, but one simple fix could change all that, guest column, Aug. 5) sounds fair, but it would not fix any of the current system’s shortcomings.

Both Obama and Romney still would have ignored Oregon under the proportional plan. Under that plan, one electoral vote would represent 14 percent of Oregon’s popular vote, and a candidate receiving between 50 percent and 64 percent of Oregon’s popular vote would receive four of the state’s seven electoral votes.

Obama’s 56 percent support in Oregon in 2012 falls smack in the middle of that 14-point range. Obama was fully eight points away from the boundary that would have boosted his electoral-vote take by one, and six points away from losing one electoral vote. Neither candidate campaigned in any state where the gap was more than four and a half points.

The proportional system would be a “winner-take-one-electoral-vote” system only in states where public sentiment was within about two points from the boundary for shifting one electoral vote. This would not be the case in about two-thirds of the states (including Oregon). Thus, most states would be “winner-takes-zero,” and those states would be totally ignored.

Meanwhile, a “battleground” state, such as Iowa, that continued to use the winner-take-all system would deliver a solid bloc of six electoral votes to its winner.

It would be a political nonstarter and unilateral disarmament for any state to enact the proportional plan unless every other state did the same.

Moreover, even if the proportional plan had been in effect in every state in 2000, the popular-vote loser still would have won the presidency.

No wonder Colorado voters rejected the proportional approach by a bipartisan 2-to-1 margin in a 2004 statewide referendum.

The way to make every vote equal and to make Oregon relevant in every presidential election is to guarantee that the presidency goes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States — all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This approach — the National Popular Vote compact — has already been enacted by 11 states possessing 165 electoral votes. It passed the Oregon House in both 2009 and 2013 by nearly a 2-to-1 bipartisan margin.

The compact will go into effect when enacted by states possessing the 270 electoral votes needed to elect a president. With National Popular Vote in effect, every citizen’s vote in every state will be worth campaigning for — and worth casting.

John R. Koza, of Los Altos Hills, Calif., is chairmain of National Popular Vote and lead author of the book “Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote.”