- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Gov. Dave Heineman and Secretary of State John Gale said Monday that a measure seeking to change how Nebraska awards its electoral votes would weaken the state’s voice in the election process.

The bill would add Nebraska to the National Popular Vote compact. Once in place, the system would require Nebraska to award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationally. The compact would go into effect when it has been adopted by states with at least 270 combined electoral votes.

“The citizens of Massachusetts and California should not determine the votes of Nebraskans,” said Heineman, who spoke at a news conference with Gale. “Only Nebraskans should do that.”

Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill picked the measure as his priority bill, increasing the chance it will be debated before legislators adjourn for the year. He has said that choosing a president is one of Americans’ most important decisions, and that it should be made by everyone in the nation and not just a few states.

Larson did not immediately answer questions on the bill Monday.

Gale said the measure “eliminates the voice of Nebraska for its own electoral votes.”

Electoral votes benefit smaller states, and Nebraska would lose its electoral edge under the bill, he said. For example, Gale said, California has 20 times the population of Nebraska but only 11 times the electoral votes.

He said any changes to the system should be done through a constitutional amendment.

“If we’re going to bow to the will of Michigan or New York or California and let them dictate through popular vote how a president is going to be elected, it’s a dramatic change of the republic system that was created by our founders,” Gale said.

Heineman said it wouldn’t be fair to award the electoral votes to the candidate Nebraska voters did not choose.

“Nebraskans would be very angry and they would have every right to be angry,” the governor said.

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The bill is LB1058.