State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) has filed legislation in the Illinois House to create a more representative method for awarding Illinois’ electoral votes for President. Through House Bill 3109, Illinois would switch from a winner-takes-all format to a proportional format using congressional districts.
Under the electoral college process, each state is awarded one electoral vote for each congressional district, as determined by the decennial census, and two votes for the two senate seats. In the case of Illinois, this currently equates to 20 electoral votes. As noted above, Illinois’ current winner-takes-all process means one area of the state may have a disproportionally strong impact on determining which candidate receives the electoral votes.
“Our founding fathers were careful to separate the branches of government and create different processes for filling those branches to ensure the differing regional interests shared by similar states could all be fairly represented. This was part of the reason for the creation of the electoral college,” said Butler. “Most states went to a process of awarding electoral votes in a winner-takes-all format because the major interests of a given state were generally shared statewide. Today, with the exponential growth in our nation’s population and our drastically different economy, that is no longer the case in many states.
“A single state now has a multitude of differing regional interests within it. Illinois is a perfect example because we have a huge metropolitan area like Chicago in the northeast, but close to half of the population is spread across the other ¾ quarters of the state. It makes sense that we update how we award our electoral votes for President to ensure these differing regional perspectives within the state are reflected in the Presidential election.”
Butler’s proposal would follow a similar model already adopted in Maine and Nebraska. Each electoral vote would be awarded based on which Presidential candidate wins the vote in each congressional district. The candidate who wins the statewide popular vote would also receive the two electoral votes the state has for its two senators. In the case of the 2016 Presidential election, Hilary Clinton would have received 13 electoral votes, while Donald Trump would have received 7.
Many have argued this method may increase voter turnout because voters will not feel their vote for President has no meaning. As highlighted above, it will improve the representation of regional interests within a state, it will also allow the electoral vote to more closely reflect the popular vote and it will improve the viability of third party candidates.
For more information about House Bill 3109, Click Here.