Mayor Martin Walsh said it’s “the wrong time” to talk about the Electoral College as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren makes a national push to eradicate it altogether.
“What I mean by that is, you’re in the midst of a presidential election, I don’t think this is the right time to be having conversations whether or not the Electoral College should stand,” Walsh said. “That conversation, I don’t think it should be a presidential campaign election. … I think we have to look and make sure that we have a balance of how the election works.”
Walsh added that he could understand Warren’s concern, referencing the 2016 election in which Hillary Clinton received almost 2.9 million more votes than President Trump, according to CNN, and a similar situation between Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers are eyeing two similar pieces of legislation that would create a “hybrid” between the Electoral College and the popular vote in Massachusetts in the hopes that the Bay State might get more love from presidential candidates. The same system is being used in Nebraska and Maine.
“There’s a lot of talk about disbanding the Electoral College, but that’s not fair,” Rep. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) told the Herald. “The reality is, the Electoral College keeps smaller states in play, especially states like Massachusetts. If it’s a popular vote, the only thing candidates will be concentrated on is the big cities.”
The bills being considered on Beacon Hill, one filed by Dooley and another by Rep. Joseph McKenna (R-Webster), would allow for two of Massachusetts’ 11 electoral votes to go to the candidate who captures the most votes in the state, while the remaining electoral votes would be distributed based on the winner in each Congressional district. Both bills will likely be combined as the hearing process unfolds.
“I just think that it’s a way to shake up the way that our national candidates run for office and pay more attention to some of those areas outside of what’s traditionally considered a swing state,” McKenna said. “Over the last several election cycles, we have seen, I would argue, 90 percent of campaign spending on 10 to 13 states. That doesn’t leave a lot of attention for the rest of the country.”
Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading) and Rep. Michael Soter (R-Bellingham) are also proponents of Dooley’s bill. Jones said he proposed the same measure when the state was voting to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which former Gov. Deval Patrick signed in 2010.
“I’m not convinced that it’s constitutional, whereas this is constitutional,” Jones said. “I think we should do this now, we should have done it 10 years ago … Candidates are not going to waste time visiting Massachusetts and campaigning here, but this would change that.”
“Changing the allocation of electoral votes in Massachusetts from a winner-take-all system to a more balanced approach would encourage more candidates — both Democrats and Republicans — to actually come here to campaign,” Soter said. “This system has worked well in Nebraska and in Maine, and there’s no reason to think it can’t work here.”
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