By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
The Massachusetts Legislature has approved a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote.
“What we are submitting is the idea that the president should be selected by the majority of people in the United States of America,” Senator James B. Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, said before the Senate voted to enact the bill.
Under the new bill, he said, “Every vote will be of the same weight across the country.”
But Senate minority leader Richard Tisei said the state was meddling with a system that was “tried and true” since the founding of the country.
“We’ve had a lot of bad ideas come through this chamber over the years, but this is going to be one of the worst ideas that has surfaced and actually garnered some support,” said Tisei, who is also the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
The bill, which passed on a 28-to-9 vote, now heads to Democratic Governor Deval Patrick’s desk. The governor has said in the past that he supports the bill, said his spokeswoman Kim Haberlin.
Under the law, which was enacted by the House last week, all 12 of the state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally.
Supporters are campaigning, state by state, to get such bills enacted. Once states accounting for a majority of the electoral votes (or 270 of 538) have enacted the laws, the candidate winning the most votes nationally would be assured a majority of Electoral College votes. That would hold true no matter how the other states vote and how their electoral votes are distributed.
Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington have already approved the legislation, according to the National Popular Vote campaign’s website. The new system would only go into effect once a sufficient number of states have passed laws that would make it work.
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