Massachusetts spurns the Electoral College
Wed July 28, 2010 11:41 am

The Massachusetts Legislature passed a law yesterday that attempts an end run around the Electoral College. The law stipulates that all of the state's electoral votes would be awarded not to the candidate who gets the most votes in Massachusetts, but to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally. Massachusetts becomes the sixth state to adopt the law, following Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington.

The interesting thing about the proposal is that--if it catches on--it would not require amending the U.S. Constitution. All that has to happen is for states accounting for 270 of the 538 electoral votes to pass the law. The minimum number of states that would have to pass the law before it could take effect is just eleven--the eleven most populous states, of course. And there would be nothing that the other states could do to stop them. Here is the current electoral vote list:

California 55
Texas 34
New York 31
Florida 27
Pennsylvania 21
Illinois 21
Ohio 20
Michigan 17
North Carolina 15
Georgia 15
New Jersey 15
TOTAL: 271
Need to elect 270

Massachusetts, ironically, would be one of the states that will not matter if the law catches on nationally.

Is this a good idea? It would seem to be a very good idea for Texas. We are going to gain three to four congressional seats in the current census, bringing us to a total of 37 or 38. Texas's influence on the national election would be huge. (Good for Texas, not necessarily good for America.)

The Massachusetts Legislature has approved a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote.

* Poll: Do you think the Electoral College system should stay?

"What we are submitting is the idea that the president should be selected by the majority of people in the United States of America," Senator James B. Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, said before the Senate voted to enact the bill.

Under the new bill, he said, "Every vote will be of the same weight across the country."

But Senate minority leader Richard Tisei said the state was meddling with a system that was "tried and true" since the founding of the country.

"We've had a lot of bad ideas come through this chamber over the years, but this is going to be one of the worst ideas that has surfaced and actually garnered some support," said Tisei, who is also the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

The bill, which passed on a 28-to-9 vote, now heads to Democratic Governor Deval Patrick's desk. The governor has said in the past that he supports the bill, said his spokeswoman Kim Haberlin.

Under the law, which was enacted by the House last week, all 12 of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally.

Supporters are campaigning, state by state, to get such bills enacted. Once states accounting for a majority of the electoral votes (or 270 of 538) have enacted the laws, the candidate winning the most popular votes nationally would be assured a majority of Electoral College votes. That would hold true no matter how the other states vote and how their electoral votes are distributed.

Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington have already approved the legislation, according to the National Popular Vote campaign's website. The new system would go into effect once a sufficient number of states have passed laws providing for their electoral vote winner to be the candidate that receives the most popular votes.

Click HERE for the status of the proposal in state legislatures across America.

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