Last week, the Oklahoma Senate passed SB906, the National Popular Vote Bill, on a bi-partisan vote of 28-18. All 12 of Oklahoma’s Democratic Senators voted for the bill and 18 Republican Senators voted against it.
This bill would change the way Oklahoma assigns its seven electoral votes from the current popular Oklahoma vote getting all votes, to a system in which the winner of the national popular vote gets all of Oklahoma’s electoral votes. This proposal has its supporters and its detractors with many concerns raised. We highlighted a few of those concerns last year when this bill was introduced. In that article we wrote:
The truth is that yes, Oklahoma would be further marginalized by Presidential candidates in the event of a national popular vote. However, that wouldn’t be changing much from the current situation. As NewsOK states, Oklahoma has been pretty much a Presidential flyover state since the 60s.
We further wrote of a better alternative, that of proportional allocating of electoral votes based on the percentage of voted earned by each candidate.
However, there is a different concern raised by some members of the House, that of the amount of lobbying taking place to get this bill passed. Representative Jason Murphey recently wrote about the tremendous lobbying effort from out of state interests who want this bill passed. He wrote about how those lobbyists are taking Oklahoma Legislators on all expense paid trips to resorts in order to get them to vote for the bill.
To this end, the national popular vote group invaded Oklahoma with a high powered team of very sophisticated lobbyists. They wisely kept the issue under the radar and away from the eyes of the public while aggressively trying to convince legislators by using a series of convoluted logic for why this proposal would benefit conservatives.
They financed a series of out-of-state junkets to various vacation sites where they explained this logic against an exotic backdrop of recreational events.
Having succeeded in the Senate, they are preparing to go on the offensive in the House. On March 20, they will finance an all-expenses-paid junket to St. Croix. In this exotic venue, far away from the eyes of the public, they will attempt to convince Oklahoma House members to vote for the bill. Just a few days after they return to the mainland, House members will vote on the proposal.
These all expense paid trips were further confirmed with a letter published by Batesline. In this article it was confirmed that Fair Vote, a 501(c)(3) organization is behind these trips.
This lobbying effort calls into serious question the ability of the Oklahoma Legislature to make decisions based on the will of the people. If those Senators who voted for this proposal did so because of the free vacation they were given rather than because the people of Oklahoma want to see it passed, then they are not doing their jobs.
If the way Oklahoma allocates its electoral votes is to change, it should be done by the will of the people not by the will of out of state lobbyists buying legislators all expense paid vacations. We will continue to watch these developments and the further progress of this bill.