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Senate Democrats launch non-starter bid to close Electoral College

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.

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We can and must embrace our diversity as the operating system of our nation, write the leaders of the Bridge Alliance.

Diverse people must be in every room where decisions are made

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.)

As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push — or call — society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. The stories of their personal transformation inspire us to be better individually and collectively. With this inspiration, we can and must transform our nation into a more perfect union.

As co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, we are inspired and challenged by the problems facing our country. Our 100 member organizations work daily to protect the ideals of our American Dream so we can create healthy self-governance that has never fully existed before. Our members work to harness the tension of our differences as we enact our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, balancing individual and community needs.

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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

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.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

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.

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