The founders created the electoral college to make sure that large states did not dominate small ones in presidential elections, that power between Congress and state legislatures will be balanced, and that there would be checks and balances in the constitutional system.
This spring, numerous candidates for president expressed support for either abolishing or changing the Electoral College and today House Democrats have introduced a resolution to abolish the electoral college.
BREAKING: House Democrats have introduced a resolution to abolish the electoral college
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) April 15, 2021
The National Archives reports that over the past 200 years more than 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College – without any becoming law.
In part, that is because the Electoral College is constitutionally mandated, and abolishing it would require a constitutional amendment. But the Constitution and the courts have allowed the states some leeway to make changes to how their Electoral College representatives are chosen.
The current system for electing a U.S. president traces back to 1787. That’s when the Founding Fathers crafted a compromise between those who argued for the election of the president by a vote of Congress and the election of the president by a popular vote of qualified citizens. Debate renewed in 2016 after the election of the fifth U.S. president who won the presidency despite losing the popular vote.
The basis for the Electoral College is found in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, which spells out how the president shall be chosen. It gives each state “in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct” electors equal to its representation in Congress. The Constitution originally stipulated that the top vote-getter chosen by these electors would become president and the individual with the second-most votes would be vice president.
But after the presidential election in 1800 resulted in an acrimonious tie vote between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the 12th Amendment was ratified in 1804. It provides for separate votes for president and vice president and specified that those individuals must be from different states.
Fully overhauling the way the president is selected would take a Constitutional amendment, which would require the votes of two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate, and three-fourths of the states.
Support of that magnitude has become rare for anything in a sharply divided United States. An amendment hasn’t been adopted since the 27th, in 1992, and one hasn’t been adopted relatively quickly since the 26th, which took 100 days from proposal to adoption in 1971.
A number of states have signed onto a pact that guarantees their Electoral College votes to the winner of the popular vote, no matter the outcome in their individual states.
The compact would only go into effect once the number of states involved surpasses the 270 Electoral College vote threshold that is required to win the presidency.
Today the pact has the support of states — and Washington D.C. — that total 181 electoral votes, largely those that have gone for Democrats in recent years.
However in short terms here’s what the Democrats would need to do to abolish the electoral college.
-To abolish the Electoral College would take 67 Senators, 290 Representatives, and 38 States.
-So, yeah, if all Democrats, plus a boatload of Republicans support it and can convince about 18 Republican states (like Texas and Florida) to ratify it, it can happen.
My message to the Dems: If you abolish the Electoral College then you might as well abolish the Senate and get rid of Statehood as State Sovereignty and the 10th Amendment becomes meaningless. This is just short-sighted.
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Author: Alex Hall
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