House panel backs electing president with direct popular vote

An effort to count Georgia among states that want to award electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote nationwide won approval Wednesday in a House committee.

House Bill 929 essentially says Georgia's current "winner-take-all" system that awards all the state's Electoral College electors to the winning presidential candidate in the state is unfair because it discounts the national tally.

"The concept of this is simple," said the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs. "It guarantees the presidency to the candidate who gets the most popular vote."

HB 929 would allow Georgia to join a compact of state legislatures around the nation that all agree to use the national tally as a way to award their electoral votes. Supporters say the effort has particular resonance for non-battleground states that candidates do little campaigning in. They say the compact would make those states — about 38 states in all — relevant in presidential elections again.

At least 10 states have so far adopted the measure, including Maryland, Hawaii and New York, but none in the South. According to the legislation, the compact goes into effect only when enough states have signed on to guarantee a majority 270 electoral votes can be reached to elect the president.

That hasn’t happened yet.

Approval from the House Interstate Cooperation Committee now sends the bill to the House Rules Committee, which decides whether bills receive a vote on the chamber floor.