Democratic Rep. Joe Geller once again filed legislation that could radically change how presidents are elected. His desire? Let the candidate with the most votes win.
He filed legislation (HB 39) that would add Florida to a national pact to award electoral votes for President based on the national popular vote. Florida, like most states, now awards all its electoral votes to the popular vote winner statewide. The Aventura Democrat has filed similar bills in prior Sessions, but feels a greater urgency on the matter than ever.
“Recent events highlight that the vote of the people could have been hijacked, theoretically at least, in the states,” Geller said.
His legislation hits the hopper as President Donald Trump continues to wage court challenges regarding the outcome of the 2020 election in several states Democrat Joe Biden won on his way to defeating Trump last month. Trump continues to lobby Pennsylvania lawmakers to throw out Biden’s win there as attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis work on efforts in other states. In Arizona, the state Republican Party encouraged voters to prepare for a fight in the streets.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has openly encouraged Republican officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania to buck election results and simply sit a slate of pro-Trump electors despite Biden winning in certified results. That’s generated some speculation within political circles about whether Florida would have gone that route, despite lawmakers dismissing such a plan as “preposterous” ahead of the election.
It’s a series of events that Geller believes makes it more important than ever to put laws in place binding electors to follow a nationwide popular vote.
Geller noted the legislation officially was filed Tuesday, “Safe Harbor Day.” That’s the day when all states are expected to certify the elections and closing off potential challenges to how they should be awarded.
But the recent tumult also more widely exposed the machinations of the Electoral College and how it can be challenged at a variety of levels. Geller, and national leaders for the National Popular Vote movement lobbying for bills in states, note the change proposed in the legislation does not in fact eliminate the Electoral College. Rather, it simply changes how states direct electors to vote.
That raises the question, would passage of Geller’s bill prevent legal challenges like those waged on Trump’s behalf this year? Geller believes it would. If a law existed in Florida statutes that required the state to honor the national vote, courts would stop a hypothetical attempt by lawmakers to award Florida’s electoral votes in an alternative fashion.
Biden won the national popular vote by more than 7 million votes. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 by about 3 million votes.