In Nebraska, winner doesn’t always take all in presidential election

As early as the late 18th century, political leaders such as Thomas Jefferson were pondering a political question left open to each state: How should our Electoral College votes be awarded? Fast-forward to this year, and Nebraska legislators were debating the same question. Right now, the Cornhusker State is one of two U.S. states without a winner-take-all system, in which all of the electors go to the presidential candidate who wins the statewide vote.

 
 
 

Since 1992, Nebraska has instead awarded electors partly by congressional district. In 2008, Barack Obama won one Nebraska district and was awarded one of the state’s five Electoral College votes. LB 382 would make Nebraska a winner-take-all system, a move that supporters say would help prevent partisan gerrymandering and consolidate Nebraska’s limited power in presidential elections. The bill’s opponents, however, point to the 2008 election as an example of the current system’s merits. Because a part of Nebraska was electorally “undecided,” they say, campaign spending and political interest in Nebraska rose.

At one time, states used varying ways of awarding electors. But by 1836, Jefferson and others had decided on a winner-take-all system — in part because of a desire among states to maximize their voting influence in the Electoral College.

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Stateline Midwest ~ February 20141.69 MB
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