A federal judge has 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 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 according to an Associated Press report, 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, according to the AP report.
The lawsuits in Texas and South Carolina should meet a similar fate as those in Massachusetts and California.
The founding fathers saw the Electoral College as a tool in balancing federalism with the rights of the people in individual states.
It's not the total popular vote that elects the president. Each individual state holds an election, with the winner in the state, whether by one vote or 1 million, getting all of a state's electoral votes – except in Nebraska and Maine. The number of electoral votes is based on the total of a state's U.S. senators and congressmen.
The system is designed to prevent a nationalization of the government, giving to each state a measure of power in electing the president. In a raw count of total votes, larger states would literally get all the attention -- during elections and between them.
The debacle that was the election of 2000 prompted much debate about the Electoral College. Despite Gore getting more overall votes than Bush, the election was decided when Florida's electoral votes went to the president. The process took weeks and weeks, with the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately entering the fray to decide when enough was enough for recounting, protesting and suing.
Amid efforts in the courtroom and by leaders in other states to change the way electoral votes are allocated, the high court is likely to have to weigh in again on the side of the Constitution.