Four Democratic senators have introduced a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College, an idea that's gaining traction among the party's progressives even though it has essentially no chance of happening.
Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand of New York signed on to the proposal Tuesday along with party whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, top Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein of California and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
The Electoral College has been the focus of anger and frustration mainly on the political left and especially since President Trump won the presidency in 2016 by winning 306 electoral votes while losing the popular vote by 2.9 million ballots, a margin of 2 percentage points.
But a constitutional change would require two-third majorities in both the House and Senate and the support of 38 states — a non-starter given the nation's current political balance of power. Instead, most advocates of making the popular will dispositive in national campaigns are focused on the getting states to commit their electoral votes to the national popular vote winner.
So far states with 184 votes in the Electoral College have enacted laws committing themselves to the so-called National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which only would take effect after states combining for more than a dispositive 270 electoral votes have signed on. Legislatures in another five states, with 32 electoral votes combined, have a plausible chance of signing on in the next year. But all the states committed or moving toward the compact so far are reliably Democratic or leaning that way.
Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)
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The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.
Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.
The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.
Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.
With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.