State Poised to Become First To Scuttle Electoral College

By Annapolis Notebook
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The House of Delegates approved a plan to effectively scrap the electoral college and elect presidential candidates by popular vote.

The Senate passed a similar bill last week, and the legislation is expected to head in the coming days to the desk of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who has indicated he will sign it.

Under the bill, Maryland's 10 electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote, instead of the candidate who wins the state. It would take effect only if states with a majority of votes in the electoral college agreed to do the same.

The proposal generated a lengthy debate on the House floor, where Democratic supporters said the change would give small states such as Maryland new attention from candidates.

"The current system does not treat every vote equally," Del. Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County) said. "Maryland has become a spectator state. . . . Why would anybody be opposed to the winner of the popular vote being the president?"

Opponents said Maryland would be rushing into a huge change. "It's an affront to the Constitution," said Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell (R-Calvert), the House minority leader. "Are you prepared to allow someone else to determine where Maryland's votes in the electoral college go?"

Maryland would be the first state to approve the change. Eighteen Democrats joined 36 Republicans -- all but one in the House GOP delegation -- in opposing the bill, which passed 85 to 54.

"The fact is that all of [the candidates'] resources go into two or three states, and their votes have greater weight," House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said.

-- Lisa Rein

Campaign Funding Bill Delayed Again

A bill to provide public funding to Maryland legislative candidates' campaigns suffered a major blow yesterday when Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's) moved to delay debate until Friday, possibly killing any chance of the bill being passed before the session ends Monday.

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