It’s time to end the Electoral College
On Monday, states reported their 2016 election results. As expected, Colorado cast its nine electoral votes for Hillary Clinton, though not without some controversy.
A single elector refused to vote for Clinton. He was removed and replaced by a substitute who agreed to vote with the majority for Clinton. The vote concluded with a unanimous vote in her favor.
Protesters across the country urged electors to vote for anyone other than Donald Trump. But many states, like Colorado, required electors to vote for the candidate who received most votes in the state.
In Colorado, that candidate was Hillary Clinton who beat Trump by more than 2.86 million votes nationally, only to lose the Electoral College vote to Trump.
If our president-elect had been chosen by the popular vote, Hillary Clinton would be preparing to move into the White House, and Donald Trump would be returning to reality TV.
Instead, Trump is headed to the White House — or perhaps moving it to Fifth Avenue in New York City — to undertake a job for which he is notoriously unqualified and unprepared.
American voters have been thwarted again. Despite overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton, the undemocratic Electoral College will give the presidency to Trump.
Trump won the popular vote in states adding up to 306 electoral votes, putting him a comfortable margin over the 270-vote margin he needed to win.
For the second time in the past five elections the candidate who got the most popular votes has lost to the winner of the Electoral College. Thousands of voters who don’t live in the major battleground states, including those in Colorado, didn’t have much to say in the matter.
This situation is not new for Democrats. It happened in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote, but lost when the Supreme Court awarded George W. Bush the presidency. Though Gore conceded graciously, his supporters have not forgotten their stolen victory.
In Colorado, as in 37 other states, all the state’s Electoral Votes are awarded to the winner of a simple majority. Fifty-one percent of the vote results in 100 percent of state electors casting their votes for the winner.
Led by Common Cause and other progressive organizations, a movement to abolish the Electoral College is taking shape. Instead of electing electors, the movement for a national popular vote advocates direct election of candidates through a national popular vote.
“Why do we have the Electoral College?” Common Cause asks. “Voters in all 50 states deserve a say in choosing our president.”
The Electoral College system is rigged, critics charge. It results in presidential candidates only campaigning in contested states with large numbers of electoral votes.
Common Cause, one of several organizations that seek to reform the Electoral College, charges that this “winner take all” system is a disincentive for politicians “to campaign in states where they cannot possibly win or cannot possibly lose. Instead, they only compete in a handful of swing states, effectively ignoring voters in every other state of the union.”
Electoral college critics call the system “unfair” and “undemocratic,” and campaign for its elimination. “The winner take all Electoral College system that led to this anti-democratic outcome must be changed,” reads a petition circulated by Common Cause, “so that voters in all 50 states have a say in choosing our president.”
Even Trump, who depended on the Electoral College for his nomination, endorsed the idea of a 50-state national popular-vote-based nomination system in which the candidate who gets the most votes wins the nomination.
Proposed solutions would transition from the Electoral College system to a popular vote either by a constitutional amendment to abolish it, or, more simply, a compact among the states to elect the president by popular vote.
Ten Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia have already agreed to support the popular vote compact. However, the compact will take effect only if states constituting a majority of the Electoral College sign on. So far, these 11 localities add up to only 165 electoral votes. Two-hundred-seventy would be needed to implement the compact.
Democrats, Republicans and independent legislators who support the idea of a popular-vote-based nomination system should unite to give the people of Colorado a real voice in the selection of their candidate for president.