By PE Politics
March 30, 2011 1:56 PM

California would award its 55 electoral votes to the presidential candidate who won the national popular vote under bipartisan legislation co-authored by Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert.

The bill by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Nestande, R-Palm Desert, marks the third attempt to add California to the ranks of states that have joined the National Popular Vote effort and have passed laws pledging their electoral votes to the popular-vote winner. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the earlier bills.

Supporters say a national popular vote would expand the presidential playing field beyond just a group of swing states. Candidates would be forced to campaign in California and many other states that currently are little more than sources of money to pay for TV ads in Ohio, Floria and other swing states.

The current system “cheats the voters” out of getting to see presidential candidates come to their area, Nestande said.

“It’s an important part of our political process,” said Nestande, who worked on GOP presidential campaigns in 1996 and 2000. “As the largest state in the union, I think it’s important that our voices are heard.”

In all but two states, electoral votes are awarded to whichever candidate wins the state. Supporters want the national popular vote system in place by next year’s presidential election.

None of the state laws would take effect until participating states’ electoral votes reach 270 — a majority of the Electoral College. So far, states representing 74 electoral votes have passed national vote laws.

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