SPRINGFIELD, IL — If Illinois lawmakers were ever given the chance to approve a change, they could join Maine and Nebraska in dividing up electoral college votes proportionally instead of it being a winner-takes-all state.
Illinois has 20 electoral votes for the electoral college. That’s the national system used to elect the president of the United States.
Illinois state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, has for years filed a bill to allow for proportional allocation of those votes based on the state’s 18 congressional districts. The two at large votes would be weighted to the candidate that won the state’s popular vote.
“This kind of balances the need for the electoral college, but also reflects the will of the people a little bit more,” Butler said.
He said it’s a good compromise with those who want to get rid of the electoral college altogether.
“There are so many people that want to get rid of the electoral college, I think this is a good way to balance the desire to completely get rid of the electoral college with the need for the electoral college,” Butler said. “I think the electoral college plays a vital role.”
Butler’s House Bill 3109 has several Republican sponsors and remains in committee, where it’s been since March 2019.
While vote totals haven’t been certified from last Tuesday’s election, looking at congressional race projections in Illinois, if Butler’s proposal were law the state could have split its 20 electoral votes with 5 or 6 going to President Donald Trump and 14 or 15 going for Joe Biden.
In 2016, then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won 11 of 18 Illinois’ congressional districts. If Butler’s measure was in effect, Clinton would have still taken the majority of Illinois’ electoral votes, getting 13, eleven congressional districts and two at large electors because she won the popular vote.
Trump would have gotten seven of Illinois’ 20 electoral votes. The new total if Butler’s bill had been in place then would be Trump with 313 and Clinton with 225, not 306 to 232.
The outcome of the 2020 election has not yet been settled, as recounts and court challenges continue.
Illinois’ electors are expected to cast their votes from the state capitol in Springfield on Dec. 14.