Speel is an associate professor of political science at Pennsylvania State University's Erie campus.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also called for its abolition, while other Democratic presidential candidates, including former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Sen. Kamala Harris, have said the Electoral College should be re-evaluated.
The Constitution's framers originally created the Electoral College as a way to filter the " passions" of the people through state-appointed presidential electors with better judgment. They assigned every state a number of electoral votes exactly equal to its number of members in Congress.
But back then, electors weren't pledged to candidates — so a state might have five votes for one candidate, and four for another. By the 1820s, the system had already evolved beyond what the framers intended. Each party chose pledged electors; if a party's candidate won the most votes in the state, that party's electors would get to cast all the votes.
This winner-take-all electoral vote system continues today in 48 states. In two — Maine and Nebraska — presidential candidates win one pledged elector from each U.S. House district they win, and win two pledged electors if the presidential candidate finishes first statewide.
In my class on American elections, we often discuss the flaws of the current version of the Electoral College. Since this issue has been injected into the 2020 presidential campaign, I've seen politicians, journalists and social media users advocate for the preservation of the Electoral College. They often repeat arguments that are misleading or outright false.
Here are four of the most common arguments I've noticed – and why they're wrong.
Johnson is executive director of Election Reformers Network, an organization of election experts advancing nonpartisan reforms to U.S. democratic institutions.
With all eyes on the threats outsiders pose to the next presidential election, it seems we have forgotten the self-made dysfunction at the center of our democracy. Another presidential election approaches, with another victory to the popular vote loser a distinct possibility. Campaigns will again focus exclusively on a handful of states, and voting will be an inconsequential civic gesture for the vast majority. Other pitfalls lurk that we largely ignore, like another Florida-style recount or the decision getting "thrown to the House," which could give final say to the minority party.
A verdict Wednesday from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver may add another Jack-in-the-box element: electors free to vote as they choose, regardless of the results in their state. If the Supreme Court agrees that Colorado's removal of a faithless elector in 2016 was unconstitutional, a new level of uncertainty will pervade our presidential elections.
A solution to these many problems, the National Popular Vote, has made considerable progress in blue states this year, but faces a long road. NPV needs to win enactment in purple states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and then survive this Supreme Court, where the majority seems to have little concern for the needs of our democracy, as the Rucho v. Common Cause decision illustrates. In the words of scholar Edward Foley, the majority "rejects the primacy of democracy as an organizing constitutional principle."
At least with stopping partisan gerrymandering, we have a fallback after the Supreme Court decided not to act: state level independent redistricting commissions. We have no such developed, viable alternative to NPV; Rucho makes clear it is time to start working on one.
Fadem is a board member and national spokesman for National Popular Vote, which wants states to commit their electoral votes to the national winner of the presidential popular vote.
Every American voter, no matter where they live, should be politically relevant in every presidential election. Every state – red, blue or purple; small, medium or large – should play an equally important role in electing the president. And all major presidential candidates should feel compelled to conduct truly national campaigns, seeking out and selling their ideas to every voter in every nook and cranny of the United States.
Those are the simple, powerful ideas behind the National Popular Vote movement to guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
In brief, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will go into effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes necessary to elect a president – 270 out of 538. In December, when electors meet to cast their ballots for president and vice president following a presidential election, the electoral votes of all the compacting states would be awarded to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across the nation.
The national popular vote bill significantly amplifies the voice of each individual voter in choosing the president of the United States.