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State lawmakers could tie Delaware's electoral votes to nat'l popular vote in 2020

Delaware Public Media

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants Delaware to join other states trying to change the way a president is elected.

A bill introduced this week would have the First State sign on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. States in the compact pledge to award their electoral votes to the candidate with the most votes nationally.

Most states currently give all of their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in their state.

That means the person elected president and the winner of the national popular vote is not necessarily the same person.

State Sen. Bryan Townsend, the primary sponsor in the Senate, said that's flawed because it encourages candidates to focus on just a handful of battleground states. He argues his legislation also keeps the Electoral College intact.

“This very much preserves state authority in a federalist system," he said. "It just happens right now to manifest itself in terms of states pledging their electors to whoever wins the popular vote. It doesn’t change the Electoral College.”

Republicans went to White House in 2000 and 2016 just winning the Electoral College. But the bill’s House sponsor, GOP State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, said the compact helps his party because there’s less focus on blue coastal states.

“By instituting this system, it means that candidates will have to campaign across the entirety of the nation, this big, beautiful, diverse, complex nation,” he said.

Townsend and Spiegelman say the bill has bipartisan support.

So far D.C. and 11 states - including Rhode Island, Maryland and California - have signed on, leaving the compact 98 votes short of the 270 electoral votes it needs to go into effect in 2020. Colorado is set to be the next state to join.

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