Secretary of State Debra Bowen today cleared conservative activist Ted Costa to start collecting petition signatures for a proposed ballot measure that, if approved by voters, would split California’s presidential Electoral College votes starting next year.
California right now is a winner-take-all state: Whichever candidate wins the Golden State’s popular vote gets all 55 of its Electoral College votes. California’s votes went to the Republican presidential nominees from 1968 through 1988, and to the Democratic nominees since then.
But Costa – perhaps best known for helping to launch the recall effort that eventually replaced Gov. Gray Davis with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – wants California to follow Maine and Nebraska’s lead in awarding most of the state’s Electoral College votes according to the popular vote in each Congressional District, so that some can go to one candidate and some to another.
Both those states adopted this method in 2008. Maine has used this method since 1972, Nebraska since 1992.
The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS. POLITICAL PARTY NOMINATION AND ELECTION BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires California to join two other states in selecting electors for president by the plurality vote in each congressional district. Two at-large electors to be selected based on plurality of statewide vote for president. Provides for political party nomination of electors pledged to vote for that party’s candidate. Mandates that electors vote for candidate for whom they are pledged. Independent electors to be chosen by independent presidential candidates and also elected by congressional district. Eliminates $10 compensation and 5 cents per mile reimbursement of electors. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Reduced state expenses of less than $10,000 every four years. (10-0024.)
Costa must collect signatures of 504,760 registered voters – the number equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election – by July 5 in order to qualify it for 2012’s primary ballot.