March 1, 2019

Senator Ferguson Pursues Electoral College Reform

In a Thursday afternoon hearing of the Senate Education, Health, and Government Affairs Committee, Senator Bill Ferguson (District 46 – Baltimore City) detailed his proposed legislation (Senate Bill 582) to pledge Maryland’s Presidential Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The legislation would take effect if another state or states (with Electoral College votes equaling those of Maryland) were to enact similar legislation. Currently Maryland awards its Electoral votes to the Presidential candidate who wins the statewide general election for the office.

“This is a bipartisan initiative to pair states. Maryland would award its Electoral College votes to the popular vote winner if a state with identical Electoral votes, and voted the opposite way of us (Maryland) in the last presidential election, would agree to do the same,” said Ferguson.

Also in his testimony, Ferguson pointed out that billions of dollars are spent on just five or six states in the country. He argued: “We have to lead the way to change from this arcane system.”

“As our democracy has changed, the electoral college system has not,” said Senator Ferguson. He followed: “States are the laboratory for democracy. We have to find ways to meet in the middle.”

The Electoral College was established in the United States Constitution and is comprised of 538 electors distributed by state/district and based on population. The President of the United States must receive a majority of 270 Electoral votes to be elected. If no Presidential Candidate reaches the majority threshold of 270 votes, the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most Electoral votes with each state delegation having one vote. The Senate would elect the Vice President from the 2 Vice Presidential candidates with the most Electoral votes with each Senator casting one vote for Vice President.

Joining Senator Ferguson in his sponsorship of the legislation are three additional Senate co-sponsors including Senators Elfreth (District 30 – Anne Arundel County), Guzzone (District 13 – Howard County), and Young (District 3 – Frederick County).

Senate Bill 582 is not cross-filed in the House of Delegates and it now awaits a vote of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. The legislation must receive a favorable vote from the committee and then favorable consideration from the full Maryland Senate before repeating the legislative process in the House of Delegates. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to either be approved or vetoed.