Outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., filed legislation Tuesday to abolish the Electoral College system for choosing the president, and outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed Wednesday that it is “something we should look at.”
“I think it would be educational for the country to have some hearings on the Electoral College,” Reid told reporters.
The move to amend the Constitution comes following Republican Donald Trump’s decisive victory in the Electoral College vote, which currently stands at 290-232, with the results of Michigan still outstanding.
Democrat Hillary Clinton, however, leads the popular tally with about 1 million more votes than Trump, according to CNN.
Image credit: CNN
If the current results hold, Trump will be the fifth president in U.S. history to win the Electoral College but not the popular vote. The last president to do so was President George W. Bush in 2000 in his race against former Vice President Al Gore.
The first was John Quincy Adams, who lost the popular vote to Andrew Jackson in 1824 but won the Electoral College and became the nation’s sixth president.
Even if Boxer’s bill were to gain the two-thirds majority of the votes needed in both the House and Senate, which is highly unlikely given Republican majorities in both, it would still have to pass three-quarters of the state legislatures (38) to be ratified as an amendment to the Constitution.
Thirty-two of the state legislatures are currently controlled by Republicans, and five have split houses between Democrats and Republicans.
In other words, the likelihood of the Electoral College system being changed any time soon is remote.
In an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, Trump indicated he would be open to a direct popular vote. “I’m not going to change my mind just because I won,” the president-elect said. “But I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win.”
However, he tweeted Tuesday:
The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2016
The liberal organization MoveOn.org is circulating a petition calling on the electors to defy the will of the voters of their states, if they chose Trump, and to back Clinton instead when they gather Dec. 19 to officially vote on the election.
Alex Triantafilou, a Republican elector from Ohio, which Trump won, said hundreds of people have asked him to vote for Clinton instead.
“They’re wasting their time, and they’re only making me stronger in my resolve to go and cast my electoral vote with the voters of Ohio,” Triantafilou said.
University of Pennsylvania constitutional law professor Kermit Roosevelt told USA Today while there is “no clear requirement in the Constitution that electors vote for the candidate they’re pledged to … it’s very unlikely that defections will happen now.”
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