Flurry on Smith Hill means the end is near

Katherine Gregg, Steve Peoples, Cynthia Needham and Edward Fitzpatrick // Published June 20, 2008 in The Providence Journal


...But it was a national political question of electing presidents by the popular vote that provoked the most vigorous House debate.

After clearing both chambers, the bill would allow Rhode Island to join a compact of states, who pledge their delegates to whoever wins the national popular vote. Legislators argued passionately for more than an hour on whether the change would help make Rhode Island more — or less — relevant on the national political stage. In one of the closest votes of the night, they voted 36 to 34 to approve the change.

Supporters argued that the “one person, one vote” concept creates a more democratic system while getting presidential candidates to pay attention to states such as Rhode Island that fall far beyond the so-called “battleground states” such as Florida and Ohio that are crucial under the electoral college system .

But critics on both sides of the aisle warned that abiding by the national popular vote wouldn’t get rid of the electoral college, it would simply force Rhode Island to join a compact, which if it swings in favor of a Republican candidate, would force this Democratic state to vote Republican.

“This is absolutely trashing a good system for no good reason at all,” Rep. Robert Jacquard, D-Cranston, said.