The college was created by the founding fathers and made a part of the U.S. Constitution. Thus, a constitutional amendment will be needed to abolish it.
But for that to happen, Congress must pass the amendment by a two-thirds majority. Then, two-thirds of the nation’s state legislatures must ratify it before it becomes law.
Nonetheless, the issue has been gaining traction since the election.
Michael Dukakis, a former presidential contender and long-time Electoral College opponent, fired off his latest salvo in an email to government website Politico.
“Hillary won this election, and when the votes are all counted, by what will likely be more than a million votes. So how come she isn’t going to the White House in January? Because of an anachronistic Electoral College system which should have been abolished 150 years ago. That should be at the top of the Democratic priority list while we wait to see what a Trump administration has in store for us. So far, all we know is that dozens of lobbyists are all over the Trump transition — a strange way to drain the swamp.”
The problem is, it could take years, if not decades to pass an amendment. A far better solution is to end the state’s winner-take-all rules.
While the electoral college is Constitutionally enshrined, state winner-take-all rules are not.
The founding fathers left it up to state legislatures to decide how they would choose its members. For the nation’s first 13 elections, state lawmakers used various methods.
By the election of 1824, however, a majority had decided on winner-take-all rules to chose electoral college members. That gave the power to the states to chose the president.
Instead of one nationwide election for the nation’s highest office, the president is chosen by 51 mini-elections in the states and the District of Columbia.
While it seems like winner-take all is a fundamental part of the American democracy, it wasn’t fully entrenched until 1872 and ended up serving nefarious purposes.
It became a way for majority white-controlled state legislatures to suppress newly franchised African-American and other minority voters.
One thing is certain, the system was never envisioned by the founding fathers. James Madison said as much in an 1823 letter to George Hay.
In the latest election, the District of Columbia and 48 states followed winner-takes-all rules for the Electoral College. Nebraska and Maine allocate their electoral votes proportionally.
The upshot of the current system is that candidates like Clinton can win the popular vote and still lose the election, defying the “will of the people.”
Al Gore suffered a similar fate in the 1988 election. He polled 600,000 more votes than George H.W. Bush. Republican Bush won Florida by a few thousand votes and got all of its 29 electoral college votes.
Trump, himself, railed against the Electoral College during the 2012 election when it appeared that Republican Mitt Romney would win the popular vote, but lose the college to Barack Obama.
“The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy,” he Tweeted. Clinton also called for an amendment to abolish the college following Gore’s loss.
At the moment, Clinton is up over Trump by more than 700,000 votes. Her margin is expected to go higher when absentee ballots are counted in Democratic states like California, according to the Cook Political Report.
But because she’s already won the state, those votes are meaningless as is every vote cast in a solidly blue and red states. In contrast, swing state voter wield vastly more influence over the selection of the president.
The winner-take-all rule undermines the 1964 Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed one-man-one vote in national elections. The Supreme Court has upheld one-person-one vote in numerous cases. The winner-take-all rule appears to be vulnerable to a similar challenge.
But far from the complicated procedure required to amend the Constitution, lawmakers could end the winner-take-all rule with a simple act of Congress.
Will Trump live up to his 2012 conviction and press to abolish it?