(iht) - Illinois will award its presidential electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote - but only if more states follow suit.
A bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich made Illinois the third state, after Maryland and New Jersey, ready to bypass the Electoral College in November. The three states, with a combined 46 electoral votes, won't act unless states totaling 270 electoral votes - enough to elect a president - sign on.
"By signing this law, we in Illinois are making it clear that we believe every voter has an equal voice in electing our nation's leaders," Blagojevich said in a statement. As a congressman in 2000, the governor co-sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College.
The new law is part of a national push by the California-based advocacy group National Popular Vote Inc. It is aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2000 election, when Al Gore got the most votes nationwide but George W. Bush put together enough victories in key states to win a majority in the Electoral College and capture the White House.
The Electoral College is set up by the U.S. Constitution to make the final decision on who becomes president. States get one electoral vote for each member of their congressional delegation. Maine and Nebraska award electoral votes by congressional district, but other states award them on a winner-take-all basis.
Under the National Popular Vote plan, states agree to award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. If most of the electoral votes were awarded that way, the popular vote winner would be guaranteed to win the election.
In the case of a tie in the popular vote, the current system would be used.
Critics of the proposal say it could reduce the influence of smaller states, and that a close presidential election would require a nationwide recount.