With a debate raging today in the Senate about which particular vulgarity President Trump used to describe African countries, it seems like a good time to review how America can prevent the election of another president who does not win the popular vote.
In other words, how can we ensure the Electoral College is abolished once and for all?
As you may know, the Constitution specifies how many electors each state gets based on its population. There are 538 electors in total, so a presidential candidate needs to secure 270 electors to win. This results in an inordinate amount of energy being focused on swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania during presidential campaigns.
The Electoral College system is inherently, and purposefully, undemocratic. The framers of Constitution were worried about putting too much power directly in the hands of voters, and instead wanted to ensure that “the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” (How surprised they would be to know that their Electoral College resulted in Trump.)
Article II in the Constitution grants individual states the power to decide how their electoral votes are awarded. Because of this, a critical mass of states whose electoral votes collectively total 270 could have the power to decide the election. If these states agree to award all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote, the calculus underpinning the Electoral College would be rendered moot.
As of now, ten states plus the District of Columbia have signed onto the idea of awarding all their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. Together, these states possess 165 electoral votes.
Therefore, just a few more states with a total of 105 electoral votes among them would be needed to agree to this idea. With those additional states on board, there would never again be another 2016 general election where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College to Trump, or like 2000 when the same happened to Al Gore, who was ultimately defeated by George W. Bush.
No matter what, the 270 electoral votes needed to win would go to the candidate who got the majority of the votes.
A coordinated national effort to pressure state governments to pass the National Popular Vote bill is going on now. If this plan succeeds, our country could be a step closer to a true democracy.