Judge rejects challenge to Massachusetts' winner take all election system

By Alanna Durkin Richer
Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) - A federal judge last Friday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the winner-take-all system Massachusetts uses to assign its Electoral College presidential votes, rejecting the argument that it violates the principle of "one person, one vote."

The case is one of several spearheaded by the onetime lawyer for former Vice President Al Gore that is targeting the winner-take-all system used in 48 states, which critics ultimately hope to get before the U.S. Supreme Court.

They argue the practice of assigning all of a state's Electoral College votes to the winner of a state's popular vote disenfranchises those who voted for the losing candidate and puts too much weight in the votes of those who live in a few key battleground states.

But Chief U.S. District Judge Patti Saris said the system is constitutional because it doesn't treat any set of voters differently from another.

"In short, this system complies with equal protection because it does not inherently favor or disfavor a particular group of voters," Saris wrote.

The lawyers behind the case, which include former Gore attorney David Boies, filed similar lawsuits in California, Texas and South Carolina.

The California case was dismissed in September, and lawyers have appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The cases in Texas and South Carolina are still pending.

The lawyers say they deliberately chose two Democratic-leaning states and two Republican-leaning states to argue the winner-take-all system harms voters of both parties.

The general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is leading the effort, said the hope is that they win in at least one appellate court so it can be elevated to the Supreme Court and transform the system nationwide.

"Ultimately I know we're going to win. Every intellectual agrees that the Electoral College is wrong," Luis Vera said.

The Massachusetts lawsuit was filed in February against Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Democratic Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin on behalf of two Republicans and William Weld, a former Republican governor and Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate.

Published: Tue, Dec 11, 2018