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Fla. Sen. Nelson Pushes for Electoral Overhaul

Fresh off seeing his state once again enmeshed in political controversy, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) introduced a package of bills Friday designed to overhaul the entire electoral system.

The centerpiece of Nelson's proposal (the full details are here) is a constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college system and "provide for the direct popular election of the President and Vice President of the United States," as the text of Nelson's resolution states.

"It's time for Congress to really give Americans the power of one-person, one-vote, instead of the political machinery selecting candidates and electing our president," Nelson said in a statement.

Wth Florida having been penalized by Democrats for holding its primary too early, Nelson also reiterated his previous call for the abolishment of the current presidential primary system in favor of rotating regional primaries. Michigan Sen. Carl Levin (D), whose state was also punished by the Democratic Party, also supports that proposal. In addition, Nelson wants all voters to have the option to vote early and/or by absentee ballot, and for all voting machines to produce a "paper trail."

None of these proposals is new, but Nelson and other election reform advocates hope that the recent controversy surrounding Michigan and Florida, along with continued problems with new voting machines (and even the publicity surrounding HBO's movie about the 2000 election in Florida, "Recount") will provide a fresh burst of momentum for change.

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee is expected to hold hearings in July on a variety of reform bills, though any real change in the presidential election system obviously wouldn't be in place until at least 2012 -- and maybe longer, given that abolishing the Electoral College would require the approval of three-fourths of the states.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 9, 2008; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Senate  
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