Trump locks in presidency

December 20, 2016 GMT

Legislation sponsored by Georgia Republicans this year would have enrolled the state in the National Popular Vote compact, but the measures never got out of committee.

And local lawmakers doubt the proposed change in how the state awards its electoral votes will resurface in 2017 — at least in its current form.

"Due to the circumstances of this election, I think people would be less likely to look at that now," said state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome.

With the electors of all states voting Monday, Republican Donald Trump cemented the presidency with 304 votes and Democrat Hillary Clinton ended with 227. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.

Texas put Trump over the top, despite two Republican electors casting protest votes. One voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the other voted for former Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Clinton lost four electors in Washington state — three voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one voted for Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle. She also lost an elector in Hawaii to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whom she beat in the Democratic primaries.

Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2 million.

Under the National Popular Vote compact, states agree to award their electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes. It would go into effect when states carrying a total of 270 votes enact it. So far, 11 states — with a total of 165 electoral votes — have signed on.

In Georgia this year, House Bill 929 was sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, and its companion Senate Bill 376 was sponsored by Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth. However, neither bill came to the floor for a vote.

Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, said Monday there are concerns that the change could lead to factions within the country banding together to violate the rights of minorities.

"We have the Electoral College for a reason," Lumsden said. "I think the framers of the Constitution didn’t trust a direct democracy. We are a democratic republic." Hufstetler said the current election system puts undue emphasis on swing states, and Georgia is not one of them.

In addition to getting the most attention from candidates, he said swing states often get beneficial legislation on the federal level from politicians trying to curry favor for their party. The Electoral College also could be depressing turnout, he said — for example, California Republicans who think their candidate has no chance in their state.

"There are pros and cons to a popular vote," Hufstetler said. "I would like to look at something that would help Georgia not be totally ignored in the election process, but at this time I don’t know what that would be."

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, said her constituent contacts are about evenly split between popular vote advocates and Electoral College supporters.

She said the Georgia legislation was studied for about two years before it was introduced, and some adjustment is still possible. She noted that there’s a push to call a Constitutional Convention that would look at all the provisions, "although that’s a big undertaking."

"Right now I feel we need to abide by the Constitution as written, but we’ll have to see how things go," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Read this story online for links to the National Popular Vote website and House Bill 929.