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Lawmakers Mull Electoral Changes

November 21, 2000

Republican lawmakers in three states that went for Al Gore are proposing that they divide their state’s electoral votes by congressional district, rather than the winner-take-all system.

In California, Illinois and New Jersey, state legislators proposed or planned bills to change their state laws so that the electoral vote can more closely match the popular vote.

``It’s a fair proposal that I believe we need to consider in light of the unprecedented closeness of this year’s presidential election and growing questions about the winner-take-all Electoral College system,″ said New Jersey state Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr.

This year, George W. Bush could win the electoral vote and the presidency while losing the popular vote. The Electoral College assigns states a vote for each congressional district and each senator.

To reform or abolish the Electoral College, as some in Congress have proposed, would require a constitutional amendment. But states could choose on their own to change how they divide their electoral votes.

Only Maine and Nebraska split their votes by congressional district, with one electoral vote awarded for the winner of the popular vote in each district, and two votes awarded for the popular-vote winner across the state.

In Illinois, huge vote totals in Chicago helped Gore carry the state, though some congressional districts supported Bush, said Rep. Bill Mitchell.

``This bill acknowledges that there are differences in the political preferences in different parts of our state,″ Mitchell said. It would give rural areas more say in the election process, he said.

California state Assemblyman Tony Strickland said splitting the electoral votes by district would encourage presidential candidates to campaign more vigorously across the state.

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