Democratic senators are expected to introduce a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College if passed.
These aren’t radical politicians, either. Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) are among those who support it.
Several politicians who are eager to win the 2020 Democratic presidential primary have joined the cause, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).
So, what is the Electoral College, and why are Democrats primarily the ones who object to it?
A brief overview of the Electoral College
The Electoral College has been around since the country’s founding. In “The Federalist Papers,” a series of articles and essays designed to promote the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton explained that the Electoral College represented a combination of state-based and population-based government.
The system consists of 538 electors, each of whom may cast one vote. To win the presidency, candidates must win a majority of 270 electoral votes.
The number of electoral votes in each state is a sum of the number of representatives and senators in that state. For example, Ohio has two senators and 16 House representatives, which gives us 18 electoral votes.
Here’s why some Democrats object to the system
Some politicians believe the Electoral College gives smaller states more power than larger ones. “If we get rid of the Electoral College, we get a little bit closer to one person, one vote in the United States of America,” O’Rourke said Monday.
For example, a Wyoming resident has 3.6 times the voting power than a California resident. After the 2016 presidential election, Huffington Post explained that “the three electors in Wyoming represent an average of 187,923 residents each. The 55 electors in California represent an average of 677,355 each, and that’s a disparity of 3.6 to 1.”
That’s true, but it’s important to note that California has 55 electoral votes while Wyoming has three. That means California has 18.3 times more electoral votes than Wyoming.
The electoral vote and the popular vote usually align, but not always. Five times throughout history, the candidate who lost the popular vote ended up winning the electoral vote. Four of those times, Democrats were at the losing end.
Let’s be honest here: Democrats want to change the system because Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 to the most politically unqualified presidential candidate in American history.
Hold on, though — Republicans aren’t innocent in this discussion either.
After the 2012 presidential election, the GOP wanted electoral votes to be divided proportionally by congressional district after then-candidate Mitt Romney lost to incumbent Barack Obama by a 332-206 margin in the Electoral College, even though the popular vote was much closer (51.1 percent to 47.2 percent).
“We can't sit silently by as they try to manipulate the democratic process for political advantage,” Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in 2013. “We can't let them attack the very democratic institutions and rights that others have sacrificed so much to gain — just because they don't believe they can win in a fair election fight.”
People want to eliminate the Electoral College simply because their preferred candidate lost. Change my mind.