FixGovHow to eliminate the Electoral CollegeElaine Kamarck and John HudakWednesday, December 9, 2020
Next week five hundred and thirty-eight American citizen will take trip to their state capitals and also elect the president of the unified States. These Americans, preferred for loyalty to their political party, will vote for the presidential candidate that won their state’s well-known vote.

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<1> Only as soon as they authorize “the certificate of ascertainment” and the votes room tallied in the United states Congress is the presidential race officially over. Together we all recognize only too well, in exercise this antiquated system means that the person who wins the many votes might not success the election.

This has actually happened 5 times in American history. Three happened in the 19th century; nobody in the 20th century and two in the 21st century. We will focus on vote in the 20th and 21st centuries.

In the 20th century there to be 25 presidential elections and none that them caused an Electoral college winner who lost the famous vote. However, in the 5 presidential elections of the 21st century, two ended up through the winner the the renowned vote shedding the Electoral College. In 2000 Vice chairman Al Gore winner the renowned vote against Governor George W. Shrub by 543,895. ~ a long fight in Florida bush won the state narrowly, offering him an Electoral College win of 271 come 266 over Al Gore. In 2016, the results were even an ext dramatic. Hillary Clinton winner the famous vote by 2,868,686 and yet lost the Electoral college vote: 304 for Trump and 227 for Clinton. And, together our colleague invoice Galston has actually written, the Electoral College continues to it is in a “ticking time bomb.” In the 2020 presidential election “a transition of just 45,000 votes in 3 states, Wisconsin, Georgia and also Arizona … could have not correct Americans’ belief in the legitimacy of their political system” by creating a tie in the Electoral College and sending the election to the house of Representatives. That can have happened also though Biden won the famous vote through 7,060,087 (and counting)—a margin also larger 보다 the margins won by George W shrub in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2012.

This can’t walk on. Having actually the human being who loser the renowned vote victory the presidency will certainly seriously threaten the legitimacy of ours elections.

Why is this happening now?

Today around 1.3% of those to work in the United says work directly in agriculture, and also they regulate to feed the entire country and beyond. This is the result of an amazing technical revolution, yet what walk it need to do v the Electoral College? Plenty. As the graph listed below illustrates, over the course of the 20th century the distance between the best state by populace and the mean state increased. For instance, in 1900 new York was the biggest state in the union v 7,268,894 people and also the state with the mean population, Louisiana, had 1,381,625 people. So, the state in ~ the median had actually 19% that the population of the biggest state. Yet as human being moved and the economy adjusted so did that ratio. Through 2019, the typical state to be Kentucky v 4,467,673 i beg your pardon made the 11% that the population of California, the best state in the union with 39,512,223 people.


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The National famous Vote interstate Compact

However, a constitution amendment is not the only means by i m sorry an alternate to the existing Electoral College have the right to be implemented. The many popular different is the National popular Vote interstate Compact (NPVIC). Began in the mid-2000s, the NPVIC is a fairly straightforward mechanism that capitalizes top top the constitutional guarantee that says are complimentary to recognize the path in which castle award their electoral votes. The compact calls for states to pass legislations that would certainly award your electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationally. Under the existing plan, says that sign up with will no activate the compact until sufficient states have actually joined to complete 270 electoral votes. The is, the compact does not go into impact until over there is a vital mass of claims for it to be effective.

Currently, 15 states and DC have approved the NPVIC. These states at this time total 196 electoral votes, although after the 2020 census is completed, projections suggest a net loss of 2 seats, lowering the number come 194. Each of those states has actually Democratic control of the state legislature. If the staying states through Democratic manage of the legislative branch (Maine, Nevada, and Virginia) to be to sign on, it would add an additional 23 Electoral college votes.<2> The compact would certainly then be 43 Electoral college votes brief of going right into effect. It have to be noted, over there is debate around the permissibility of such a proposal and its walking into result would likely face a flurry of lawsuits. Nonetheless, it is likely the most viable different to the current Electoral college system.

Alternatives to winner-take-all

As debated above, the only practical way of ending the Electoral college is by transforming the means in which says use the renowned vote to compensation electors to the presidential candidates. In enhancement to the NPVIC debated above, there room two sport on this template that might reduce the odds the someone could win the presidency without winning the national popular vote.

In the first instance, states might decide to award 2 Electoral college votes (EVs) to the winner that the national well-known vote (NPV) and also the remainder come the winner the the state. That method that the nationwide winner would begin out with 102 Electoral college votes. In most situations this should prevent the renowned vote loser from becoming president. Because that instance, if a hotly disputed state like Wisconsin damaged for the candidate who shed the well-known vote, eight of its ten electoral votes would certainly be included to your tally. The adhering to table shows exactly how this would certainly have readjusted the outcome in the two contested elections the the 21st century and includes 2004 for comparison.

Alternative 1: 2 electoral votes to national popular vote winner; state winner-take-all because that the remainder


Actual final*2EVs/state for NPV win**Alternative 1 Final***
2000
Bush EVs271-60211
Gore EVs26660326
2004
Bush EVs28638324
Kerry EVs251-38213
2016
Trump EVs304-63241
Clinton EVs22763290

*Each of this races included faithless electors, such the the total of electoral votes, as shown, does not equal 538.** changed Maine come act together one state rather than different EV districts.*** because that the objectives here, all electoral votes in a given state were awarded to the suitable winner, hence attributing faithless electors to the appropriate candidate. Electoral vote totals will certainly equal 538. In each case, the number of faithless electors who exercised that behavior would not have had a meaningful impact on the outcome.Source: everyday Kos Elections

A 2nd variation would be come award two Electoral college votes from every state come the winner that the national popular vote and award the continuing to be electors to the winner of every congressional ar (CD). Nebraska and Maine currently award some of their electors come the winners of the conference districts. An example of a state closely separation by congressional district is Florida in 2016, where Trump winner in 14 the them and also Clinton won in 13. Under this option, Florida would provide 15 Electoral college votes to Clinton and 14 to Trump.

The adhering to table shows how this would certainly have changed the result in two contested elections of the 21st century, and how a third would have remained the same.

Alternative 2: two electoral votes come national well-known vote winner; remainder apportioned through congressional district


Actual final*CD wins**Popular vote#Alternative 2 Final##
2000
Bush EVs2712380238
Gore EVs266198102300
2004
Bush EVs286252102354
Kerry EVs2511840184
2016
Trump EVs3042300230
Clinton EVs227206102308

*Each of these races contained faithless electors, such that the complete of electoral votes, as shown, does no equal 538.**Here, us treat the district of Columbia as a solitary congressional district (as the 23rd Amendment to the structure does for the objectives of the Electoral College).# since the district of Columbia is vested Electoral college votes under the 23rd Amendment, we include its votes below as if it were a state. In the Electoral College, there room 51 vote jurisdiction (“states”) that has D.C.## because that the purposes here, every electoral votes in a provided state were awarded to the ideal winner, thus attributing faithless electors to the ideal candidate. Electoral vote totals will equal 538. In every case, the variety of faithless electors who exercised that behavior would not have had a meaningful affect on the outcome.Source: day-to-day Kos Elections

The politics problem

Throughout background there have been end 700 make the efforts to revolutionary or abolish the Electoral College, follow to the Congressional study Service. And also even despite it is widely identified that the Electoral college is a “ticking time bomb” that can seriously erode American democracy, none of these attempts has been successful. It is because, regardless of its as whole merits, change is constantly rooted in the politics of the day. Together we begin the 3rd decade the the 21st century, change benefits the Democrats.

This is clear in polling on the topic. As we deserve to see from concerns posed in two respectable polls, Pew and also Gallup, despite the reality that majorities support readjust it is democracy who assistance it and also Republicans who oppose it.


Amend the constitution so the candidate that receives the many votes wins
Overall58%
Democrat/Lean Democrat81%
Republican/Lean Republican32%
Source: Pew research study Center

Amend the ConstitutionKeep the existing system
Total61%38%
Republican23%77%
Independent68%31%
Democrat89%10%
Source: Gallup

This polling mirrors why a constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College will certainly not happen the U.S. Congress any kind of time soon, nor would it have anywhere near the essential support in state legislatures. That is not just Republican elected officials who desire to preserve the Electoral college system; Republican voters assistance it together well. In a polarized politics environment, together an institutional structure continues to be entrenched. The also method the roadway to any kind of kind of revolutionary is fraught with political potholes, an especially when the remove of together a system plainly benefits one party at the cost of another.

Conclusion

Despite political challenges to reforming the way in which the United states selects its president, over there is peril in keeping the standing quo. If the Electoral college system begins to prevent, top top a regular basis, the popular vote winner from ending up being president, it will create systemic challenges. Confidence in elections, trust in government, and also the legitimacy of elected officials and also the workplaces they hold will be challenged by a system that repeatedly turns its ago on the will certainly of the voters. And also while Electoral college winning/popular vote losing presidents room formally and also technically legitimate holders the the office, the perception that a broken system is anti-democratic and anti-majoritarian can have wide-reaching, penetrating, long-term after-effects for the health and wellness of a democracy. Maintaining the Electoral College might seem favor the most politically expedient position for the Republican Party in the short term, but it might cause significant damage in the long term.

Note: A previous version of this article stated the awarding 2 electoral votes every state (plus D.C.) to the national renowned vote winner would type a baseline that 138 votes. The exactly number is 102.

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<2> Both chambers that the new Hampshire legislative branch are currently controlled by Democrats; however, the 2020 elections change both chambers come Republican control. The state also reelected their Republican branch in 2020.