These States Don’t Want the Electoral College to Determine the Next US President

Cries of “not my president” are popular at political rallies these days for a number of reasons — not least of which is the fact that the majority of the country did not vote for Donald Trump. Yet, thanks to the workings of the electoral college, he won anyway — just as George W. Bush did in 2000 and several others did in the 1800s.

Many activists agree that we’re overdue for a change to this system, and a growing group of states is taking action.

Between presidential elections, people often forget about the electoral college. While each state holds a popular vote, that term is a little misleading.

After all, people aren’t actually voting for the president. They’re voting for the electors, officials who meet in the month after the election to vote all over again — and determine who wins the election. In most cases, electors follow the results of their states’ popular votes, though there have been a few faithless electors – their official term, not mine!

But it’s possible to win the popular vote and lose the electoral college — and, thus, the election — because of the way electors are allocated. Some states have an outsized role in this process, and it can swing the outcome.

Because the electoral college is embedded in the Constitution, it’s tough to eliminate. But some states are proposing an end-run: Instead of committing their electors to their own popular vote outcome, they want electors to vote with the national popular vote.

In other words, if John Q. Republican wins the national vote, even if voters in Connecticut went for Jane Y. Democrat, the state’s electors would cast their votes for John. I bring up Connecticut for a reason: It’s the latest state to embrace this proposal.

Ten states, along with Washington, D.C., have already hopped on board this movement. Notably, they’re blue states, following the growing frustration among Democrats across the country about recent elections.

They’re collectively agreeing upon an interstate compact, recognizing that collaborating on election reform could yield meaningful results more quickly than waiting for acts of Congress and the complexities involved in amending the Constitution.

While the process of creating amendments is by design quite challenging — a good thing for people of all political parties — the difficulties can be disheartening for reformers who want faster action. There’s nothing in the Constitution that tells states they can’t ask their electors to follow the direction of the popular vote — and states are taking advantage of this.

This isn’t just about elections, though certainly the electoral college influences which states receive attention during elections, and how their residents are treated. As a California resident, for example, I don’t receive nearly the same level of active courting by political candidates as someone living in Ohio. But it turns out that so-called battleground states tend to get more federal funding and support, even when it’s not an election year.

Of course, Democrats aren’t the only ones raising concerns about the electoral college. Republican legislators have participated in this push — and one extremely high-profile Republican once spoke out quite assertively against the electoral college, calling it a “disaster for a democracy.” I speak, of course, of Donald J. Trump.

Curious to know if your state has joined the compact? You can check on the status across the U.S., including states that have finalized bills, those with bills in the works and states that haven’t taken any action yet. If you’re interested in advocating for electoral college reform, consider contacting your state legislators to ask them to join this movement!

Photo Credit: Washington State Archives/Flickr

74 comments

Eric Lees
Eric Lees22 days ago

Once again the problem is not the Electoral College. The problem is the 2 party Oligarchy has hijacked our elections, they control the government and the media. They know how to keep us divided. The media pounds in the myth that voting for the lesser evil is the only choice.

When we elect Republican majority the Oligarchy wins.
When we elect Democrat majority the Oligarchy wins.
They control the FED and our money. It's no accident that the FED remains the same no matter which wing is in charge. It's like the lottery which the state wins every time, it's just a tax on those that are bad at math which is mostly the poor.
We outnumber them, we can take back our country.

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Brian F
Brian F23 days ago

Judie B The point I'm making is the Democrats still have an unfair super delegate rule. That's cheating. Also the Democrats will not adopt Bernie Sander's progressive policies, like Medicare for all. Bernie Sanders tried to end the Democrats corruption, but the Democrats never will end their corruption. The Democrats can't win by repeating their same mistakes and refusing to end their corruption. This is why we need a third party, and Jill Stein.

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Judie B
Judie B23 days ago

Brian F. Bernie has moved on from the election. You should, too. Bernie was an INDEPENDENT running on a Democratic ticket because he knew he didn't have a chance in Hades without them. He brought up some good issues, that he wouldn't have had a platform for, otherwise. Get over it. Bernie has. Learn from Bernie's example.

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Brian F
Brian F23 days ago

Bernie Sanders would be our president if the Democrats didn't have an unfair super delegate rule, and rig the primary for Bernie Sanders to lose. Disgraced liars Donna Brazille passed debate questions to Hillary, and Debbie Wasserman Shultz scheduled the debates to favor Hillary. The DNC favored Hillary all along which is a violation of the rules. So until we end the Democrats horribly corrupt super delegate rule, that gives their incumbent over 400 super delegates before having a challenger, the Democrats should not whine about the Electoral College. The Democrats need to end their own corruption before complaining about other corruption in our election process.

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Monica C
Monica Collier23 days ago

The electoral college is archaic and needs to go. I have been saying that for decades.

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Joan E
Joan E24 days ago

Why is the electoral college anathema now? because people like Trump and GW Bush have been winning elections they could not have won if Bush hadn't been handed his win by the Republicans on the Supreme Court and his brother Jeb cheating on the vote count in Florida and Putin cheating the vote in several states to help Trump even though he lost the popular vote by 2 million. One person one vote is more fair.

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Joan E
Joan E24 days ago

It always seems that Republicans win only because of gerrymandering, voter suppression, lying and cheating. They are a minority party and cannot win the popular vote the way they act now. If we citizens each get one vote and are not illegitimately prevented from using it, we would have a normal and fair nation again.

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Julie D
Julie D24 days ago

The Electoral College needs to go as well as all forms of gerrymandering. There is no longer any legitimate reason for these. They are simply ways of manipulating the vote to suit vested interests for their own purposes. One person, one vote, winner by popular vote, PERIOD! That is the only fair way to hold elections. Not everyone in every state votes the same, not even everyone in every family votes the same, it will be a mixed bag of results no matter what state you live in, so those excuses are null and void. It is not fair that a person who votes in California has their vote counted at only 1/3 of a vote, while people in another state have their votes fully counted as one whole vote. That is bullshit! Those whose vote is only counted as 1/3 are being cheated. One person one equal vote, period.

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Lesa D
Lesa D25 days ago

#345801 petition signed...

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Lesa D
Lesa D25 days ago

thank you s.e. ...

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