Bypassing of Electoral College advances
Maryland legislators approved giving its presidential votes to the national winner
ANNAPOLIS, Md. » Maryland is poised to become the first state to approve giving its electoral votes for president to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than to the candidate chosen by state voters.
The plan, passed yesterday by the state House, would take effect only if states representing a majority of the nation's 538 electoral votes adopted the same change.
Some states are considering the move as a way to avoid a scenario in which a candidate wins the national popular vote but loses in the Electoral College, as Democrat Al Gore did in losing to George W. Bush in 2000.
Hawaii's Senate passed a similar bill in February to give the islands' four electoral votes to the candidate with the most votes. The House Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to recommended it to the full House.
Supporters of the Maryland bill said the state, which has 10 electoral votes, gets passed over by presidential candidates who head to larger battleground states.
Opponents say the change is unnecessary and constitutionally questionable.
The final vote in the Democrat-controlled House of Delegates was 85-54, with only one Republican endorsing it. The Senate has already passed the bill, and Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, plans to sign it, said spokesman Rick Abbruzzese.
Under the present system, voters support slates of electors, who then meet to choose the president. The Electoral College has 538 members, with the winning candidate needing at least 270 votes.
National Popular Vote, a group that supports the change, says bills have been introduced in 22 states. The Arkansas House and Hawaii and Colorado senates have voted for the change. North Dakota and Montana voted against it this year.
California lawmakers adopted the measure last year, but Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.