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Report: Maryland system likely model for electoral college

WASHINGTON — When Maryland's 10 electors meet in the State House on Monday to formally cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton, they will have the distinction of representing a state that likely served as a model for the Electoral College more than 200 years ago.

When the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to draw up the Constitution, Maryland's system of selecting state senators through an electoral system had been in place for more than a decade. By 1789, two years after the convention, Maryland was the only state using the system, according to research from the Maryland State Board of Elections.

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In defending the electoral college, Alexander Hamilton once pointed to Maryland, arguing that if the system "really contained the danger which has been so loudly proclaimed, some symptoms at least of a like danger ought by the time to have been betrayed by the Senate of Maryland."

"We kept it going until 1836," said Jared DeMarinis with the State Board of Elections, who has written a history of the Electoral College meetings since 1789. "Then it was declared undemocratic, and that's why lawmakers got rid of it."

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Debate over the Electoral College is raging again this year after Clinton won the popular vote but lost to President-elect Donald Trump under the system of state-based electors envisioned by the framers. Some Trump opponents have called on Republican electors elsewhere to cast a ballot for someone else.

Maryland is a winner-take-all state and, by state law, electors are required to support the candidate who won the popular vote here. Though some have questioned the constitutionality of laws prohibiting "faithless electors," it won't matter in Maryland. There is no reason to think an elector, chosen by the state Democratic Party, has a hidden desire to back Trump.

Clinton won Maryland with just over 60 percent of the vote.

The electors — which this year include local party officials, a former Howard County councilwoman and other Democrats — will meet in the Governor's Reception Room on the second floor of the State House. Gov. Larry Hogan will certify that Clinton won the state's popular vote. Motions will be made, and seconded and voting will begin.

The ballots will be sent to the U.S. Senate, and results from each state will be announced during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.

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