What would it take to actually abolish the Electoral College?

Elizabeth Warren wants to abolish the Electoral College, but is it that easy?

By Jack Roskopp - Graham Media Group

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren made headlines recently when she said during a CNN town hall in Jackson, Mississippi that if she became president, she would abolish the Electoral College. 

“I believe we need a Constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and to make sure that vote gets counted,” she said. “We need to make sure that every vote counts. Come the general election, presidential candidates don’t come to places like Mississippi. They also don’t come to places like California and Massachusetts. We’re not the battleground states. My view is that every vote matters. The way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means getting rid of the Electoral College.”

Her statement was met with a boisterous roar from the crowd, and it doesn't come as a shock that a room full of supporters for a Democratic nominee for president would be happy to hear about ending the Electoral College after Hillary Clinton lost the vote in the Electoral College to President Donald Trump, despite winning the popular vote. 

And other Democratic nominee hopefuls are echoing Warren's views on the Electoral College.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is also a contender in the 2020 race, was quoted in the Washington Post last Tuesday morning where he sided with Warren's comments on the Electoral College.

"It’s gotta go,” the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said. “We need a national popular vote. It would be reassuring from the perspective of believing we’re a democracy. But I also think it would be highly encouraging of voter participation on the national level.”

Even newcomer to the 2020 race, Beto O’Rourke, feels some type of way about the Electoral College.

“I think there’s a lot to that,” O’Rourke said. “You had an election in 2016 where the loser got 3 million more votes than the victor. It puts some states out of play altogether. They don’t feel like their votes really count. If we really want every person to vote and want to give them every reason to vote, we have to make sure their votes count and go to the candidate of their choosing. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that.”

It seems to be without a doubt that some Democrats would like to see the Electoral College done away with, but it begs the question: Is that even possible?

The simple answer is yes. The governement does have the power to abolish the Electoral College; it's just a matter of getting the support to do so, which seems almost slim to none at this point. 

The move would require a constitutional amendment, which is pretty tough to pass. Two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and Senate would need to support the change, as well as 38 of the 50 states. 

This would take a lot of support to pass for Democrats, even if they had control of both the House and Senate. And it doesn't look like the GOP has any interest in abolishing the Electoral College any time soon.

"The desire to abolish the Electoral College is driven by the idea Democrats want rural America to go away politically,” Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted in response to Warren’s town hall. 

Even more moderate Republicans, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, are not fond of the idea. “#ElectoralCollege was work of genius by founders,” Rudio tweeted. “It requires candidates for president to earn votes from various parts of country. And it makes sure interests of less-populated areas aren’t ignored at the expense of densely populated areas.”

There is another way to bypass a constitutional amendment, and it's called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If a state wants to sign on to the NPVIC, it would ensure that all of the state's Electoral College votes would go to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote. 

The compact would only go in effect once the total Electoral College votes of the states that sign on surpass 270, which happens to be the minimum number of Electoral College votes needed to win an election. 

Colorado just became the latest state to join the compact, which includes California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. With these blue states already on board, there are a total of 181 Electoral votes, so that means that some red and purple states would need to pass bills to join the compact to get to the magical 270 number. 

If enough states got on board with the NPVIC, it would still likely get challenged in courts and would spark many legal battles about whether the compact is constitutional or not. 

Basically, this is not something that could happen overnight, but a 2018 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute says that 65 percent of Americans believe that the popular vote should determine presidential elections -- so maybe this isn't such a crazy idea.

Do you think presidential campaigns should be determined by the Electoral College or the popular vote? Let us know in the poll below. 

 

Graham Media Group 2019