Capitol Alert

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More than a decade after George W. Bush beat Al Gore for president despite winning fewer votes nationwide, California has given a movement to overturn the nation's Electoral College system perhaps its greatest lift yet.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation this morning committing California to an interstate compact to award electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide.

The agreement would become effective only if states possessing a majority of the nation's 538 Electoral College votes agree. Eight other states and the District of Columbia have signed on, committing 74 electoral votes. The bill Brown signed today adds California's 55.

Proponents say the agreement would make California more relevant in presidential elections.

"For too long, presidential candidates have ignored California and our issues while pandering exclusively to the battleground states," the bill's author, Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said in a written statement. "A national popular vote will force candidates to actually campaign in California and talk about our issues."

Assembly Bill 459 passed through the Legislature with little Republican support. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed previous versions of the bill, in 2006 and 2008.

Schwarzenegger said the plan was "counter to the tradition of our great nation, which honors state rights." He also said he could not endorse awarding California's electoral votes to a presidential candidate a majority of Californians may not support.

In other elections-related legislation action announced today, Brown signed Assembly Bill 84, allowing Californians who become citizens within 15 days of an election to register and vote until polls close. Registration currently is cut off for new citizens seven days before an election.



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