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Electors in Maryland Support Electoral College Changes

BRIAN WITTE, Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Some presidential electors in heavily Democratic Maryland say they support changes to the Electoral College after seeing two Democratic presidential candidates in the last 16 years win the U.S. popular vote, but still lose the national election.

Salome Peters, one of Maryland’s 10 Democratic electors, doesn’t hesitate when asked whether she believes the Electoral College system should be changed.

“I really think we should go with the popular vote, period,” said Peters, who is the chairwoman of the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee, in an interview this month.

Under the current Electoral College system, voters decide to support slates of “electors,” who meet to choose the president. Maryland’s electors will gather Monday afternoon at the State House in Annapolis. A candidate needs a majority of 270 out of 538 votes to be elected president.

Changing how the nation elects its president is not a new concept in Maryland, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. In 2007, Maryland became the first state to approve legislation that would give Maryland’s 10 electoral votes to the winner of the nation’s popular vote.

Since then, 10 other states have passed legislation that would have states pledge to deliver all their electoral votes to the nationwide winner of the popular vote. A group called National Popular Vote is pushing an interstate compact.

Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, won Maryland’s 10 electoral votes last month with 60 percent of the vote. But Republican Donald Trump won the national election by winning the Electoral College vote, 306-232, although Clinton leads in the popular vote. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won Maryland with 57 percent of the vote and also narrowly won the U.S. popular vote. But he lost the presidency to Republican George W. Bush in the Electoral College 271-266.

Courtney Watson, a Maryland Democratic elector in Howard County, also said she believed the Electoral College system should be modified. She said there should be a stop-gap measure put in place for candidates who win the popular vote by a certain percentage but fail to win the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

“I do think the current situation is untenable,” Watson said.

Robert Leonard, a Maryland Democratic elector in Timonium, said he believes electors should vote for the candidate who wins the most votes in a state now, but he’s open to changes in the future.

“I’m a believer of you play by the rules that you’ve been given … but I think that going forward we might need to consider some changes,” Leonard said, noting the pact approved by Maryland in 2007.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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