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National popular vote for president big push among Maryland, other states

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There’s a big push for a “national popular vote for president” and Maryland is one of the states leading the way. All states—and all voters—would have an Election Day impact—not just the so-called battleground states.

A local state senator is giving the plan serious momentum.

“The dominant force in this presidential campaign has been Ohio,” said Jamie Raskin, (D-Md) District 20 Senator.

Raskin believes no one state should steal a candidate’s attention. The Maryland Democratic Senate Senator and Constitutional Law Professor at American University says the electoral college is hurting our election.

We've seen four cases in U.S. history where the presidential candidate who lost the popular vote, won the White House: John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison and George W. Bush.

Raskin introduced legislation to keep that list from getting longer.

“The National Popular Vote Plan is a plan that unifies the states into a compact,” Raskin said.

The compact would commit each state's electors to vote for the winner of the popular vote—not their “sworn” candidate. Eight states, plus D.C. are in.

“All of us together will cast our electors for the winner of the national vote,” Raskin said.

But more states must join the pact first—enough to tally up the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

“I think it's risky,” said Steven Oppenheimer, an American University Law Student.

Oppehnheimer is one of Raskin's students. The 2000 Bush-Gore race raises a red flag for him.

“What if you have a very close national vote...the kind of thing we saw in Florida except on a national level. Do you have to do a recount across the entire nation?” said Oppehnheimer.

It's a gamble other students are fine taking.

“In order for people to believe that their vote counts, I think that the popular vote is just the answer. The electoral college just isn't,” said Silva Young, an American University Law student.

“It completely disenfranchises people like me who are from states like New York where it's already a done deal where we're going to send our electors,” said Zachary Mason, an American University Law student.

Mason says neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney have spent any time "getting out the vote" in his hometown.

“This election is determined by voters in Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Nevada. People from New York, California, Texas, Alabama...We already know which way our state's going in the red/blue column so we might as all not even vote for president,” Mason said.

Public opinion surveys suggest a majority of Americans—both Democrats and Republicans—support the idea of a popular vote for president. A 2011 Gallop poll revealed only 35 percent would keep the Electoral College.

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