Unfortunately, Congress has continued to block this basic reform that has long-standing, overwhelming public support. Gallup polls have shown strong public support for nationwide popular election of the President for over five decades. Numerous other polls have confirmed a high level of public support for this reform. Polls consistently show 60-80% of Americans believe they should be able to cast votes in the direct election of the President: Gallup Poll.
Today more than ever, the system we use is a disservice to the voters. With the number of battleground states steadily shrinking, we see candidates and their campaigns focused on fewer and fewer states. While running for the nation's highest office, candidates in 2004 completely ignored three-quarters of the states, including California, Texas and New York, our three most populous states. Why should our national leaders be elected by only reaching out to 1/4 of our states? It seems inherently illogical, and it is.
In recent history, we all remember the 2000 election which awarded the Presidency to the candidate who came in second in the popular vote. That's water under the bridge. But there are few who realize in 2004 President Bush's 3.5 million vote lead over Senator Kerry could have been trumped with a change of less than 60,000 votes in Ohio. With Ohio in the Kerry column the current system and would have elected him President. But our proposal isn't about elections. It's about the future of our democracy.
In the final analysis, to me the most compelling reason for directly electing our president and vice president is one of principle. In the United States every vote must count equally. One person, one vote is more than a clever phrase, it's the cornerstone of justice and equality. We can and must see that our electoral system awards victory to the candidates chosen by the most voters.
It is heartening to see the Every Vote Equal strategy described in a new book Every Vote Equal will correct the flawed system we maintain for electing our top two leaders. States must band together to solve this long-standing, vexatious problem - I hope every state will take up legislation and move to join the agreement. Since Congress has repeatedly refused to act, it's refreshing to know states have the ability under the Constitution to step up and create the solution Americans have long supported. I hope you will join me in supporting this important effort.
Former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Indiana)