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Support the National Popular Vote Bill

Anthony Panek, president of the Utah College Republicans, speaks during a rally with the popular vote movement on the front steps of the state Capitol Building in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012. The popular vote movement wants to replace the elec
Anthony Panek, president of the Utah College Republicans, speaks during a rally with the popular vote movement on the front steps of the state Capitol Building in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012. The popular vote movement wants to replace the electoral vote process in the U.S. Constitution with a popular vote in electing the president.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

As members of the University of Utah College Republicans and College Democrats, we don't agree on a lot of things. One thing we do agree on is that Utah voters should matter. Unfortunately, when it comes to presidential elections, they do not.

The reason for this is the winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes. Under this system, candidates have no reason to campaign in states where they are well ahead or far behind. As such, instead of every vote and every state having a say in presidential elections, we have battleground states (that matter) and flyover states (that don't).

Utah hasn't been a battleground state in her lifetime.

This might seem counterintuitive. After all, we all learned in high school the Electoral College exists to protect the interest of small states. Isn't that what it's for?

Under the current system, however, 12 of the 13 smallest population states (New Hampshire, a battleground state, being the lone exception) are ignored. Once elected, presidents govern in accordance with their electoral interests. Small states are shut out of the presidency.

That's not what the Founders intended.

Unfortunately, the Utah Legislature recently missed an opportunity to restore Utah's voice in presidential elections. The National Popular Vote Bill would guarantee the presidency to the winner of the overall popular vote in all 50 states. Once states representing a majority (270 out of 538) of electoral votes have enacted the plan, it will go into effect.

This is a state-based plan, in accordance with Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, which gives states the full power to award electoral votes as they see fit. Most major changes to the way we elected the president, the right of women to vote for example, began as state-based efforts. The National Popular Vote Bill follows the fine tradition of states being laboratories of democracy.

Naturally, many political power players support the status quo. Some have banked their entire political career on squeezing valuable votes out of battleground states. But the people are not on their side. Polling in Utah shows more than 70 percent of people support the idea the winner of the most popular votes should win. A vote in Utah should count just as much as a vote in Ohio or Florida. It's common sense.

As we can attest, this is a non-partisan plan to give us a voice in presidential elections for the first time in decades. We encourage those interested in the future of Utah to learn more about this plan, and we call on our legislators to support the National Popular Vote Bill.

Anthony Panek is the president of the College Republicans of the University of Utah. Aaron Miles is the vice president of the College Democrats of the University of Utah.