The National Popular Vote organization apparently doesn’t really believe in the popular vote.

The California nonprofit launched a campaign last week criticizing Oregon’s Senate President Peter Courtney because he wants voters to decide a complex issue rather than having the Legislature decide for them.

The issue is the nonprofit’s effort to effectively do away with the Electoral College by getting individual states to agree to switch all their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote in presidential elections.

According to the group’s proposal, as soon as states controlling 270 electoral votes approve the plan, it would be activated, requiring those states to make the switch. So far, states representing 165 have signed on. It takes 270 electoral votes to elect the nation’s president. Oregon has seven.

The Oregon House has approved the measure multiple times, but Courtney has prevented a vote in the Senate. The Salem Democrat has recently said he would support putting the measure before Oregon voters.

“If you believe in the popular vote, then let the popular vote decide the issue,” Courtney said in a statement reported by the Statesman Journal newspaper. “If a bill to put the National Popular Vote Compact to a vote of the people comes out of committee in 2018, I’ll vote for it.”

That’s not good enough, though, for the California-based group pushing the measure. It bought ads, built a Facebook page and website, and said it would also use Google and Facebook to spread its attack on Courtney.

The Bulletin editorial board has repeatedly opposed the National Popular Vote because it’s a dangerous, over-simplified response to the notion that the Electoral College is in conflict with the bedrock “one man, one vote” premise of voting. In fact, the Electoral College is a critical tool to balance the influence of high-population states, preventing rural areas from being ignored. The same principle operates in U.S. Senate elections, where each state has two, despite significant differences in population.

Such a momentous change in the way we elect the nation’s presidents deserves to be considered by Oregon’s voters rather than decided by its lawmakers.

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