Maryland Agrees to End Run Around the Constitution
Jeez, I have despised this proposal
for a long time, but it looks like it's liable to happen:
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law yesterday a measure that would circumvent the Electoral College by awarding the state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide.
The bill, one of 105 signed by the Democratic governor the day after the General Assembly adjourned, makes Maryland the first in the nation to agree to let the national popular vote trump statewide preference. It would not take effect until states that cumulatively hold 270 electoral votes -- the number needed to win a presidential election -- agree to do the same.
Will it be constitutional? That's a very tricky question. There's no doubt that the plan is, at its essence, an attempt to amend the constitution without actually jumping over the hurdles required to accomplish that. At the same time, it's true that the constitution does not say how states must allocate their electoral college votes.
My distaste for the proposal stems from the fact that a small number of states could enact this change by themselves. For example, if California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, New Jersey and North Carolina all pass this change, then the other 38 states effectively have no say in the matter. Worse still, it's in the interests of those big states listed to do so. If South Dakota's three electoral college votes don't matter (and they wouldn't under this proposal), then why would presidential candidates campaign there? Answer: They wouldn't. So what is the result? More power to the big states, more TV ads for the stations in the big states.
Labels: Electoral College, Maryland