Some Lawmakers Hope To Change Way Floridians Vote In Presidential Elections

Jan 17, 2018

Joined by others, Rep. Joe Geller (D-Dania Beach) speaks during a press conference about a bill he filed.
Credit Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Two Democratic Lawmakers are hoping Florida gets involved in a movement that would change the way Floridians vote for the President.

Under the current Electoral College system, Floridians essentially vote for a group of electors.

If a Republican presidential candidate—for example—wins the popular vote in Florida, the GOP candidate would then gain the state’s 29 electoral votes.

And, the presidential candidate needs a total of 270 or more from all states to win.

But, some say the process should be much simpler.

“In every country around the world except this one, the person who gets the most votes wins. I mean, it’s just that simple,” said Rep. Joe Geller (D-Dania Beach). This should not be a complicated issue.”

Geller is sponsoring a bill to change that system. He wants Florida to join what’s called the “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.”

It would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the popular vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Geller says it’s not a Democrat or Republican issue, as several states with GOP-controlled legislatures have also agreed to be a part of the compact.

“So, we think there’s a real groundswell of support after having a circumstance where twice in 16 years, the person who got the most votes did not become the President,” he added.

After the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush became the President, despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore. Then, there’s this past presidential election, when Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump became the President, through the electoral votes.

So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have signed onto the compact. According to that movement, it actually has to go through the electoral voting process to go into effect.

So, with the states that have signed on, the compact has 165 of the 270 electoral votes needed for it to go into effect.

“With 165 electoral votes currently committed to the National Popular Vote Compact, a large battleground state, like Florida, joining in this multi-state electoral effort will make having a national popular vote more likely for the 2020 elections,” said Sen. Victor Torres (D-Orlando), the bill's Senate sponsor.

Torres says his measure is needed for future elections.

“Florida continues to grow in population, and new Hispanics and non-partisan voters now constitute one third of all of Florida’s voters,” he added. “In recent, presidential elections, almost half of Florida’s voters did not count because of the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral delegates.”

Still, both the House and Senate measures have not yet had a committee hearing.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.