TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved entering a compact that would eliminate the power of the Electoral College to choose a president.
The Senate voted 21-12 on Thursday to approve legislation delivering the state’s 15 electoral votes for president to the winner of the national popular vote, though the measure could result in the electoral votes going to a candidate opposed by Garden State voters.
The Assembly approved the measure in December, so it only needs Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s signature to become law.
“The bill is subject to a thorough review, but Gov. Corzine has long been a supporter of this concept,” Corzine spokesman Jim Gardner said.
Still, the compact would take effect only if enough states _ those with a majority of votes in the Electoral College _ agreed to it.
A candidate needs 270 of 538 electoral votes to win.
Maryland _ with 10 electoral votes _ is the only state to pass the compact into law.
It has also passed both houses of the Illinois Legislature, according to the California-based National Popular Vote organization that has been pushing the bill, while it has also been approved by one legislative house in Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina.
Governors in California and Hawaii vetoed bills to join the compact.
The goal is to ensure the national popular vote winner becomes president.
Democrats who sponsored the bill have noted how Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but President Bush won the electoral vote tally.
Sponsors contend the agreement would ensure all states are competitive in presidential elections, make all votes important and guarantee the person who received the most votes wins the presidency.
Republicans criticized the bill as undermining federal elections by eliminating a factor that forces candidates to pay attention to voters in smaller states.
New Jersey has backed Democratic presidential candidates since 1988.