NEW YORK (KXAN) — As members of the Electoral College convene to officially cast their ballots for President-elect Joe Biden, one former presidential candidate says the college itself must go.
In a tweet, former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “I believe we should abolish the Electoral College and select our president by the winner of the popular vote, same as every other office. But while it still exists, I was proud to cast my vote in New York for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”
Clinton notably won the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential Election, but lost to Pres. Donald Trump — who earned 3 million fewer votes than Clinton — when the Electoral College voted.
Along with former Sec. Clinton, the Washington Post reports all 28 other members of the college voted for Biden, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton. As of noon Monday, Wisconsin, Georgia, and the highly sought-after Pennsylvania all cast their votes for Biden.
Should the Electoral College be abolished?
Many arguments, and increasing public support, for abolishing the college exist, here are just a few.
It isn’t working anymore — Many argue, as Sid Groeneman does in WaPo, the Electoral College isn’t doing as it was intended: evaluating people for fitness to be president and deciding whether to allow them to be. “The electors were supposed to evaluate those running for the presidency and not vote in a power-hungry fool,” Groeneman writes, though he didn’t name who he was discussing.
States receive electors based on population, not voters — In a piece for the New York Times, “Let the People Pick the President,” author Jesse Wegman explains that states receiving electors based on population gives no incentive for those in power to reach out to new voters. In this way, states benefit from those they don’t help have a voice
It’s a relic of slavery and continues disempowering Black voters — Slaveholders in the south, according to Brooklyn Law School professor Wilfred Codrington III, resisted a purely popular vote because their population vs. the number of non-voting residents (slaves) would have watered down their power. He argues slave-holding states benefitted then and those same states continue disenfranchising Black voters because the majority of the Black population remains in southern states.
Elimination of “battleground” states — Many Americans are left feeling as if they’re on the fringes, due to the existence of “battleground” states — where sought-after electoral vote numbers appear to matter more than ones in other states. Why vote if you don’t feel your vote matters?
The people should get to decide — At least two hugely polarizing modern presidents lost the popular vote but were chosen by electors anyway: George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Trump’s election in particular catapulted even more discussion over the need for the college. Statistically, Maggie Astor write in the NYT, the college has only benefitted Republicans, not Democrats or Independents.
“The more this happens, the more you get the sense that voters don’t have a say in the choice of their leaders,” Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative thinktank American Enterprise Institute told NYT. “And you cannot have a democracy over a period of time that survives if a majority of people believe that their franchise is meaningless.”
While overall, 89% of Democrats want the college gone, only 23% of Republicans told Gallup they do.
As of November 4, a Gallup poll found that 61% of Americans want the Electoral College abolished.