A U.S. House of Representatives member earlier this week called the Electoral College a scam that negatively impacts minorities.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat and outspoken critic of the Trump administration, also said, “The Electoral College has to go.”
She’s not the only one. Several Democratic presidential candidates, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, also said they believe the Electoral College is obsolete and should be retired.
Those Democrats are not alone. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, a majority of American voters support eliminating the Electoral College in favor of electing the president by popular vote.
Democrats have reason to be sour on the Electoral College. In the 2000 presidential election, Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton was the popular-vote winner, but got drubbed by Donald Trump in the Electoral College.
And here is a bit of hair-pulling irony for Democrats: The Electoral College was created for two reasons. First, to create a buffer between the population and the selection of a president. The founding fathers were afraid of direct election to the presidency because they feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power.
We have great faith in the framers of the U.S. Constitution, which created the Electoral College, but that was two and a half centuries ago, and America has changed significantly with the passage of time. The founding fathers reasonably expected electors to choose whichever candidate they believed best qualified. But today, that just doesn’t happen. Instead, electors are virtually forced to vote for their party’s candidates for president and vice president.
You have free articles remaining.
In other words, what began as an effort to protect the voting rights of U.S. citizens has morphed into an act of allegiance and loyalty to the party, be it Democrat or Republican. We can’t imagine that was the goal of our nation’s founders.
What further underscores the fallacies of the Electoral College is if neither presidential candidate wins the required 270 electoral votes, the election would have to be decided in the House of Representatives, which is a problem because each state would have only one vote. States with smaller populations would count as much as larger states. If a state couldn’t decide on a candidate, its vote is nullified. Don’t even ask what happens if there is a strong third-party candidate involved.
The Constitution’s framers believed that Electoral College abuses would be avoided because those elected to the college would be responsible citizens. Maybe, but as we mentioned earlier, things have changed in America, and the change process is accelerating.
We respect the founding fathers’ zeal to ensure a safe and fair vote, but as our democracy has matured, the notion of majority rule has gained greater importance in the machinery of election politics, and that concept speaks directly to improving the process by eliminating the Electoral College and relying solely on the popular vote.
Democrats would love that. Republicans would likely abhor it, because even when the GOP candidate loses a state in the electoral vote, it generally is much closer than the popular-vote gap.
Our guess is that the majority of Americans — as per that NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey — would support a constitutional amendment to change the process, but amendments require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress, and ratification by 38 of the 50 states.
We would love to hear from readers on this issue.