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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL)

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House Republicans Block National Popular Vote

Thursday, January 26, 2017

ST. PAUL—Today, Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) tried to pass an amendment which would commit Minnesota’s presidential electors to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. It was blocked on a party-line vote 6-10. 

“If House Republicans are truly concerned that the President of the United States of America should be elected by the people they, need to support the National Popular Vote initiative,” said Rep. Freiberg. “Unfortunately, what House Republicans are proposing would only move Minnesota from likely being a swing-state sought after in presidential elections to being completely ignored by future presidential candidates.” 

The Government Operations and Elections committee was considering legislation that would change how Minnesota awards its electoral votes from a winner take all method to instead be awarded by congressional district. Many representatives expressed concerns with this method because the Minnesota Legislature is tasked with creating congressional district boundaries during redistricting. The GOP proposal would give future legislatures incredible influence over how Minnesota awards its electoral votes because they could draw congressional district lines to favor one political party over the other. 

Representative Freiberg offered an amendment that would delete the House Republican proposal and commit Minnesota to the National Popular Vote plan.

“Voters should pick their elected officials; politicians shouldn’t be allowed to pick their voters,” said Rep. Freiberg. “Legislation like this gives even more reason to create heavily gerrymandered districts and gives more power to those who already have it. I offered House Republicans an opportunity to let voters truly pick their president, it is disappointing that they passed on an opportunity to allow one person to have one vote.”

After House Republicans blocked the amendment on a party line vote, the bill was held over in committee to be possibly included in a larger elections omnibus bill. 

“In National Popular Vote, we have an idea to truly make each vote for president equal to every other,” said Rep. John Lesch (DFL – St. Paul), the chief author of the National Popular Vote bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives. “For the Republicans to instead put forth a plan which only benefits their party politically represents the height of disingenuousness. It’s ridiculous.”