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State House panel to take up Electoral College overhaul

Nov 17, 2014

A state House panel is scheduled to meet Monday to consider changing the way Michigan awards its Electoral College votes for president.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Right now, the state assigns all of its 16 electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. A new Republican proposal would allow the runner-up to get up to seven of those votes – depending on how close the vote is.

“What this does is it says, if you want to do well in Michigan, you got to actually come here and talk about our issues,” said bill sponsor state Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Twp.

“And if you don’t and the other guy does, then you’re going to lose electors.”

Democrats are blasting House Bill 5974. They say Republicans are trying to peel off electoral votes in a state that has voted for Democrats in presidential contests since 1992. And they claim it is part of a nationwide scheme to do the same in other “blue states.”

“This systematically tilts the playing field in favor of Republican presidential candidates across the country,” said state House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills.

“We feel very strongly against this attempt to rig elections nationally,” he said. “And if they do this, it will be very toxic to the atmosphere in Lansing.”

Gov. Rick Snyder and state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville have both expressed concerns about changing Michigan’s electoral system. But Snyder has not said whether he would veto the bill if it gets to his desk.

Lund’s new proposal differs from one he offered during the Legislature’s last session. He previously hoped to assign electoral votes by congressional district. If that system had been in place during the 2012 election, Republican Mitt Romney would have received the majority of Michigan’s electoral votes, despite losing the majority of the popular vote to President Barack Obama.