Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in Tuesday’s election getting 233,404 more votes than Donald Trump, but Trump still won the election thanks to a 1787 relic called the Electoral College — a system that gives a certain number of votes per state to the winner no matter their margin of victory. Clinton, Trump and many other politicians have actually advocated for abolishing the College, and there’s actually a conceivable plan to do it!
Before we get to how, a little history: the original framers of the constitution created the Electoral College as a way to ensure that less populous states could affect national elections (remember, this was 1787, and there were only 13 states, each one differently populated — Delaware for instance had 59,096 residents while Virginia had 691,937).
Also, the wealthy, land-owning slave owners who wrote the Constitution didn’t want the filthy uneducated masses to elect the wrong person, so they ensure that an “educated” College man would cast each state’s final votes.
Nearly 230 years later, Clinton is actually the fifth presidential candidate to fall prey to the Electoral College despite winning the popular vote: other undeserving losers include Andrew Jackson (1824), Samuel Tilden (1876), Grover Cleveland (1888), and Al Gore (2000). So why does it still exist?
The short answer is that abolishing the damned thing requires amending the U.S. Constitution and that requires either: 1) getting a two-thirds majority vote in both the U.S. House and Senate (which ain’t gonna happen seeing as Republicans control the Senate and the Electoral College helped elect their last two presidential candidates) or 2) getting two-thirds of state legislatures (33 of them) to agree to the new amendment, a long and costly process which would give everyone indigestion despite being worthwhile.
There’s actually an alternate plan to circumvent the Electoral College called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). It would require a bunch of states with a combined total of 270 electoral votes (the number needed to win the presidency) to agree to award all their electoral votes to whoever won the popular vote. What’s amazing is that 10 states/regions with a total of 165 electoral votes have already agreed to the NPVIC — that’s 61% of the 270 electoral votes necessary to activate it.
So far, the NPVIC states/regions include California, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Getting NPVIC passed requires state residents to harass their legislators, so contact yours today!
FairVote.org, one of the organizations pushing NPVIC, is also pushing for “ranked choice voting” an alternate voting method that would allow voters to pick a first, second, and third candidate, meaning that a person could choose a third-party candidate and if that candidate didn’t win, their vote would automatically go to their second choice — finally, guilt-free third-party voting!
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