INTERVIEW: Time to get rid of Electoral College?

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As recently as 2000, George W. Bush was elected U.S. President by winning the most electoral votes, but losing the popular vote.

The United States has been electing a president through the electoral college for as long as we have been electing presidents.

Tom Golisano would like to change that. He is the billionaire founder of the company Paychex. He was the owner of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and unsuccessfully ran for governor of New York three different times.  He joined NBC12's First at Four.

RYAN: It's a real honor to have you here on First at Four.

TOM GOLISANO: Real honor to be here Ryan.

RYAN: And you're not affiliated with any party. Why do you think this change is necessary to move away from the electoral college and instead elect a president through popular vote.

TOM GOLISANO: You brought up one good example and that was the 2000 election where Al Gore had more votes than George Bush, but George Bush became president. A lot of people don't remember or realize that in 2004, it was the other way around. If 66,000 people in Ohio had voted differently, John Kerry would have been president -- and George Bush had three million more votes. We obviously have that issue where we have candidates that can become president with the least number of vote. It's the only election that works that way in the United States of America. It was formed and created that way in a much different era back in 1800 where there was very few states, no means of communication or computing or anything like that, just a total different era. And I'm one of those people, three weeks before the election, I start wondering before red states, blue states, electoral votes. Most Americans don't understand this and don't understand why we have this system. In fact, nationwide, it's polled at 75 percent that citizens would like to change it.

RYAN: It would require a constitutional amendment, one of the reasons you're going to state to state. It would be a tough sell in a state like Virginia. We saw the presidential candidates so much in 2008, it was like they were running for city council.

TOM GOLISANO: First of all, it doesn't require a constitutional amendment. All it does is require enough states that represent 270 electoral votes to decide that they want to award their electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes in the whole country and this way guarantees that the candidate with the most votes wins. That means we're traveling around the country talking to legislatures and governors, getting them to pass this legislation at the state level. Right now, we're halfway home. The governor of California is supposed to sign in California within the next few weeks, and with that, we have 132 electoral votes and we immediate 270 to get this done.

RYAN: We're going to talk more about this in the coming weeks. I have a personal question for you. Are you ever thinking about getting back in the sports business? There's a lot of people in Buffalo wondering if you're interested in becoming the next owner of the Buffalo Bills.

TOM GOLISANO: I'm concerned about the team leaving the city, and I've made the commitment if that likelihood appears to be happening, I will try to get involved and try to prevent it from happening.

RYAN: A lot of my friends in Buffalo will be happy to hear that. Thanks so much for being here and good luck.

TOM GOLISANO: Thanks, Ryan.

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