Michigan Group Wants Voters to Decide if Presidential Electoral Votes Go to Popular Winner

A Michigan group is planning to ask voters in the next couple years to support a ballot measure that will give all of Michigan's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. Leaders of Yes on National Popular Vote of Michigan have said that such a measure would help protect the notion of "one person, one vote" and reform a voting system that many view as flawed.

Though the group halted plans Thursday to petition for the measure's inclusion on a 2022 ballot, it now says it will target the 2024 ballot.

"We believe that enacting the national popular vote will restore faith, confidence and stability in the American political system," said co-organizer Mark Brewer, the ex-chairman of the state's Democratic Party. "It will help make sure that our government is more responsive, accountable and answerable to ordinary people."

Though rare, the electoral college system makes it possible for a presidential candidate who did not win the popular vote to secure the presidency. This happened twice already this century, most recently in 2016 when former President Donald Trump beat Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

The Yes on National Popular Vote of Michigan initiative was launched in September with the aim of moving Michigan away from the electoral college system in favor of a method that would more closely reflect the vote of the American people. If enough states enacted such a measure for a total of at least 270 electoral votes, the minimum number to win the presidency, the movement will have succeeded.

As of now, 15 states and Washington, D.C., have successfully passed legislation to back the national popular vote system for a total of 195 votes.

"Michigan should join 15 other states and move this country toward a national popular vote, so we will remain steadfast in our efforts to bring about this necessary reform that will apply the principle of 'one person, one vote' to our presidential election," said Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the state GOP and another of the Michigan group's organizers.

Michigan Popular Vote
A Michigan group is planning to ask voters in the coming years to support a ballot measure that will give all of the state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. Above, voters fill out their ballots at a church being used as a polling station on Election Day in Arlington, Virginia, on November 2. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The initiative has drawn criticism from Republican lawmakers and the state GOP despite one of its organizers being a former leader of the Michigan Republican Party.

Anuzis said the committee will continue fundraising and other work ahead of 2024.

The 2020 race came down to narrow margins in a handful of swing states despite Democrat Joe Biden scoring a decisive win over President Donald Trump in the popular vote.

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser said the national popular vote campaign threatens to take away Michigan voters' voice in electing the president.

Under the current system, each state is assigned a certain number of electoral votes based on population. In all but two states, the winner of a state's popular vote takes all of its electoral votes.

"We're proud to have taken a strong stance against turning over Michigan's electoral votes to California, and we will fight this again if it rears its ugly head in the future," Weiser said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mark Brewer
In a movement organized by the former leader of the Michigan Republican Party and Mark Brewer, ex-chairman of the state Democratic Party, a group plans to ask Michigan voters to decide whether the state's electoral votes in presidential elections should go to the winner of the national popular vote. Above, Brewer addresses the Michigan Democratic election night party in Detroit on November 6, 2012. Carlos Osorio/AP Photo