What if We Just Counted Up All the Votes for President and Saw Who Won?

The Electoral College is long past its sell-by date, and the people who run national campaigns know it.

Comments: 264

  1. Please tell me something I don't know. -- haven't realized esp. since the last election when Hillary won.. E>G> what would Congress have to do to eliminate the Electoral College. Would it not take a Constitutional amendment? How does our Constitution really work? Outlining the reasons we need a change is only half the discussion.. We need to understand how it is we get there. Is it possible given the obstructionists who now constitute Congress?

  2. @Anna Passing an amendment to the Constitution will require 3/4 of the states to ratify. Given the purpose was to protect the rights of the individual sovereign states, this is not going to happen. If it had worked the other way with Clinton winning with a minority of the individual votes, would you be looking for a change. It’s usually whoever loses that gripes the most - as anyone would expect.

  3. @T Smith The purpose wasn't to protect the rights of the individual states but to act against what the Founders feared would be an excess of democracy.

  4. It's a pipe dream. Conservatives don't WANT everyone's vote to count equally. They never have. They have ALWAYS worked to artificially inflate their voting power, because they know they are incapable of coming p with superior ideas or proposals, and thus incapable of convincing a majority of voters to choose their candidate. They'd never allow us to count every single vote equally, because that would result in them never winning national office again.

  5. I agree with you fully right up to your last sentence @Samuel. Conservatives would win again (though possibly not the first time on). They would do it by changing their behavior to something which better reflects an improved democracy.

  6. @Samuel You're probably right. But one thing you could do is to force all the members of the Electoral College to vote for the candidate who won in his state. Of course that would render them completely useless and it would undermine the reason they even exist which is to protect the country from the mistakes the voters are prone to make, especially the rabble. It would protect what's left of the power of voters to actually choose their President.

  7. @Samuel • as an interim measure, let's encourage all the states to follow Maine and Nebraska in abandoning the winner-take-all results, and award electoral college votes by percentage. If many of the big states, California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, did this, then the tide would turn and be unstoppable. Also encourage ranked voting in each state (as Maine does now).

  8. The Republicans will never go for it, despite the comments from former Republic strategists in the article. Their entire platform is based on the concept that the minority has a system in place to rule the rest of the nation (see Gerrymandering, Voter Suppression, and the Senate for more information on this subject).

  9. @Earl "The Senate." Is the left going to propose abolishing that next? Much as they criticize Trump for weakening democratic institutions, progressives are the ones with little respect for these institutions.

  10. @Earl Neither will the states ever agree to relinquish power. You need 3/4 of the states to ratify an amnesty dent. It will never happen.

  11. @R.P. The Senate we have today has taken the lead of destroying our democracy. The small majority has basically sided with the executive branch to end over site creating unchecked power for the president.

  12. It's time to acknowledge, also, the shameful origins of the electoral college; it's main, although unstated, purpose was to protect slave power. The electoral college carried the 3/5th clause to the presidential election. Without it the power of Virginia would have been half the power of New York in the presidential election even though the states had roughly equal power in the House of Representatives. With the electoral college Virginia had roughly equal power and was able to elect several presidents in a row in the early republic. Acknowledging the origins of the electoral college should be reason enough to abolish it.

  13. @PNBlanco The 3/5ths clause was actually there to limit the power of slave states, not to enhance it. Also, this mainly had to do with apportioning seats in the House, not Electors, although the House apportionment does indirectly impact the number of Electors a state has. As far as the College itself, it was designed to recognize that the states were the “bodies” that made up the nation. Remember that prior to 1789, we had a very loose confederation of states that even were issuing their own currency. This recognition of the States as the “atoms” of the nation can also be seen in the original approach to electing Senators by the legislatures of the states. The whole false narrative about the College having its roots in slavery is basically fake news designed to take a system that ensures that cities don’t dominate our politics and replace it with one that further diminishes the status of states.

  14. @QED I don't think this is an analysis of US Constitutional politics/creation that holds water. The 3/5ths Clauses a compromise reached between the chattel-slavery economy states in the South and the mercantile states in the North. The Southern states wanted enslaved people to count for apportionment of delegates in the Congress; the North did not. The compromise ultimately gave more power to the South on the backs of disenfranchised slaves than the North wanted, but less than they might have desired. The EC is therefore based on slavery: Each state has the same number of electors as Reps in the House, which was in turn based on population with slaves counted as 3/5ths of a human. This doesn't protect 'small' states: It was championed by the two most populous states in 1790 - Virginia and North Carolina. The problem for them was they disenfranchised and enslaved 30-40% + of their state, so would be evenly matched or lose a direct election to the Northern states where most of the (male) population could vote. Pegging the 'electors' to the number of Representatives (determined by slave and free pops.) instead of a direct vote (only white property-holders) allowed the more populous apartheid slaves states to benefit from the presence of enslaved pops. without letting them vote. The US in the 1780s had two major economies: urban and slave. 'Stopping the cities from dominating' is little more than doublespeak for giving power to slave states.

  15. @PNBlanco If anyone bothered to open a book, they'd realize that the purpose of the EC wasn't to protect the slave states; it was to eliminate their power. The South wanted to count slaves as part of their population. This would've given the South enormous power legislatively. Although the compromise did give them more legislative seats, it far decreased what they could've had in the Congress.

  16. Sounds fair to me. I'd also like to see ranked-choice voting.

  17. Yes, ranked-choice voting is perhaps an even higher priority!

  18. @Seanchai Learn some history. The United States is in effect a federation of sovereign states despite the attempts to undermine this arrangement,

  19. @T Smith It originally was, but these days most of us think of ourselves as Americans more than as citizens of our individual states.

  20. Every vote is counted, and counts. Election Day is a national holiday Use paper ballots and a sharpie - X marks the vote Hand count the ballots How hard can that be?

  21. @StuartM Well, after all this is America and we are exceptional. So it follows then that this is impossible here in the home of the brave. Never happen in a million years. Exceptional.

  22. Or at least have Election Day on a Saturday, like we do here.

  23. @StuartM Love it! The simplicity, the fairness, the strong unifying , the concreteness, even the beautiful labor-intensivity. Let's do it!

  24. "The way you can get elected in the U.S. is what shapes the campaigns.The campaigns are what shape the candidates. And the candidates are what shape the presidency.” The change to a popular-vote-system is long, long overdue.

  25. United States is a Federal Republic; the electoral college underscores that by making sure that the Presidential election is national not coastal. Change it so that winning congressional districts awards the winner an electoral vote. Should the electoral college be reformed, yes, but not done away with.

  26. @Gregory Well said and absolutely correct. Those who wish to do away with the electoral college show a profound ignorance of the history of our country and the basis for the EC. Eliminating the EC might well be seen to abrogate the agreement to join together into the United States. If that were to be the case I would suggest each state could then decide to stay or withdraw from the federation.

  27. @Gregory I’m sick of hearing people say “it’s a republic, not a democracy.” I’m sick of hearing people talk about the Founders like they came down from Mt. Sinai with the Constitution. They were human, and they left us with a political framework that was the best that could be done at the time. But which we are empowered to change to suit our needs. Having said that, I think distributing EC votes by district would be a good compromise. It would be more representative. But there would still have to be two votes per state that have to be awarded to the statewide winner (as done in Maine and Nebraska). Low population states would still punch a bit above their weight—as in the Senate. I get the concern that rural voters don’t want the election to be completely about the big coastal cities. But in the long run, the basis of legitimacy is the consent of the governed. If we slip into a mode where close elections routinely go against the popular vote winner, that in itself contributes to weakening the legitimacy of our system.

  28. @T Smith "If that were to be the case I would suggest each state could then decide to stay or withdraw from the federation." And that is also long overdue. The United States as such, exists in name only.

  29. Republicans don't want more voters. They want fewer voters. David Plouffe, a democrat, and all republicans, know very well that abolishing the electoral college will benefit the democrats. That's why they say a rainy election day is a republican dream. Republicans get into their Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators and drive to the polls. Democrats have to negotiate buses and trains to get to the polls.

  30. @Jim Tagley So nobody owns a Toyota or a Honda? That's not my experience. Republicans want more voters in areas where they do well, Democrats the same. Both sides are about winning, which is why amending the system to create a more fair outcome is difficult to achieve.

  31. @StuAtl The fact remains that if every adult in the U.S. voted, republicans would never win another election and they know it. That's why they employ every tool available to suppress the vote.

  32. The Republicans have lost six of the last seven popular votes for presidents. The next election will almost certainly make it seven of eight, and demographics suggest that Republicans will have an even harder time in future winning the popular vote. As long as Republicans have the ability to block a constitutional amendment, they will. This change can happen only when Democrats become a super majority party, which may not happen in our lifetimes once the Supreme Court gives the OK to Republicans to apportion representation within states based on citizenship. Republicans do not want to expand the franchise and ensure every vote has meaning; they want to disenfranchise and take representation away from those groups that they perceive as unlikely to vote for them. If you want this to have any chance to happen, vote blue no matter who every opportunity you get.

  33. @IMS We are the United STATES of America, not the United PEOPLE of America. The states elect the president, not the people by popular vote. We are a nation of states, not a nation state. If you want that to change, either move to a nation state or knock yourself out trying to amend the constitution.

  34. @Southern Man You are wrong our federal government and president belong to it's citizens. We have a federalist system that gives states some authority but they are subservient to our Federal Government. This compact theory argument has been destroyed along with nullification theory and states rights. We fought a war over this and the South lost. The states used to elect senators but not anymore change is the only thing certain in history.

  35. @Andy Maxwell "...they are subservient to our Federal Government." Yes and no. They are subservient to an extent, but are supposed to retain legislative power as enumerated in the 10th Amendment. Anything NOT already in that particular document is supposed to be left to the states. Unfortunately, our unofficial "fourth branch" of government, all of the departments, have created a federal leviathan that grows and grows often not improving its intended targets. Very unfortunate, indeed.

  36. Unfortunately, the Republican Party relies quite heavily on voter suppression to win elections, so opening up the electorate like this would be anathema to their cause.

  37. Until last year the biggest state with the most voter suppression was N.Y. No vote by mail or early voting that the rest of the country has long had. It wasn’t to protect the GOP it was to protect incumbents.

  38. I agree wholeheartedly, Julia. However, Republicans are Americans first. And, I believe that enough of them can now see the sickness—-and desire to right the sinking ship and thus will vote Democratic this time around, clean up and shore up our nation—fixing the gaps in the structure so that we do have a Republic to preserve and protect and cherish. Vote blue true blue Republicans of honor—-and let’s all begin again together, in good faith.

  39. @Julia Please explain what you consider voter suppression. Keeping in mind that proving one is both alive and a citizen is not suppression. I have to do that for almost ALL government functions require this step as they should.

  40. If we just counted up the votes and see who won, New York and Los Angeles would run the country and the dysfunction of having urban capital cities run the rural areas would become nationwide. Like the Hunger Games. The Electoral College was put in place by people who knew what medieval European feudalism actually looked like.

  41. New York and Los Angeles do not have even close to a majority of the nation's voters and a significant minority of those cities' voters are Republicans. With national voting, a Manhattan Republican's vote would count as much as a Manhattan Democrat's. Under the current system, the Manhattan Republican's vote is as meaningless as a Mississippi Democrat's.

  42. @CNNNNC Man oh man, I'm getting tired of hearing these arguments about the Electoral College protecting us from big bad East and Left Coast urban city folk. This thinking is very two dimensional. Fact: There are many of conservatives living in urban areas. Fact: There are liberals living in fly over country. Nixon, Reagan, and Trump were from California and New York. They were not liberals as far as I can reckon. One man one vote please.

  43. I’m all for it. Look where the opposite approach has got us. Deny science, deny universal heath coverage, put children in cages. I could go on.

  44. This is so obviously right and crucially important that it's amazing that such suggestions don't appear much more often. The way that US presidents are elected is anti-democratic, with its absurd emphasis on swing states and ridiculous power given to the electoral college. But just as in Britain where proportional representation would improve democracy immeasurably, but never gets approved, don't expect the dinosaur major political parties to do anything about it.

  45. If the 2000 and 2016 elections are of any indication, the electoral college favors the right-wing. I would not expect Republicans to cooperate in ending the electoral college system.

  46. @Nav Pradeepan It favors them "how" Nav? The republicans tried in 1960s to get rid of the "college" when it didn't suit them politically and failed, thankfully, to pull it off. Both sides have hated it which means it works. I will go with what has worked for hundreds of years as we watched country after country fail due to their systems. So we should listen to the democrats who are running lousy candidates and now want process changes so they can win. That is lazy both physically and intellectually.

  47. @Bill Virginia The republicans of the 60's are more like the democrats of today. The south depends on it to maintain power whether it's the democrats of the 60's or republicans today.

  48. No, it favors those who campaign in all 50 states, not just those who only want to campaign in NYC, Chicago and LA.

  49. THis is nice but a wishful thinking. Electoral College is the 18th century idea that was to unify all the 13 STATES and the nation is named United STATES, not not united people. It was created to have a voice for small states like Delaware and Connecticut. we will need to amend the constitution to change the election procedure. And this amendment will never pass because there will be at least 14 states that have small populations - primarily in the mid-west and Alaska and Hawaii. Same applies to the second amendment that was created when there was no Federal army and state militias were needed to defend against foreign forces like England and France. The only way is to call a constitutional convention and create a new constitution. This is what Sanders should fight for as his revolution, not the economic warfare,

  50. @Wonderfool Simple, no electoral college and no slavery solution in 1787, then no United States. Disagreements and political differences in the US are bad today, but what if we had evolved into numerous small bickering countries similar to Europe 1000 years ago. We only exist as a country due to compromise and accommodation of our differences or we used to except in 1861. There will be no major changes in our flawed Constitution or there will be no USA.

  51. The electoral college was a necessary compromise to get the country started. Yet now we find ourselves locked into it by self interest and a blind reverence for the founding generation. The college is also inconsistent with the Civil War constitutional amendments which establish equality as a bedrock American value. When the culture wars calm down, and when for profit propaganda goes out of style, we should flush the college. Like powdered wigs and wooden teeth it’s out of sync with our world.

  52. @Cal Prof Another solution is to reconstitute the states every 20 years to balance population with say 100 equal population states. Or, go regional with 7 major regional entities and no states. Or, abolish the states altogether a la Russia (politically weak states with minimal powers).

  53. @Cal Prof Like the Supreme Court and Congress who also get in the way of your liberal thinking. You want to get rid of what made your party lose an election with a very flawed candidate, Miss Hillary. Trump, like Obama, like Bush, like Bill Clinton, etc, etc, winning candidates. Hillary was a losing candidate much like when Bob Dole ran Against Bill Clinton. Remember the the elevator test? If the democrats would find some good candidates who weren't brain addled like Joe Biden or politically damaged like Bernie, they could have won the upcoming election! You didn't and will now lose. Wah, boo hoo, let's change the system so we can win! Republicans tried this, and lost, in the 60s so at least you are in good company.

  54. One of the few benefits of the current system is it’s a mess to do election tampering when you have to do it state by state. We really need to secure our elections already.

  55. I think if you read Katherine Drinker Bowen's excellent book, "Miracle at Philadelphia", on the day by day development of the American constitution, you will change your mind. The founding fathers discussed, at length, the issue of popular vote vs the current electoral system. If you read this book you will see that the same issues that face us today faced the founding fathers. After much discussion and compromise, they arrived at what we have. Please become educated in that detailed discussion and you will see that the issues Washington, Hamilton, etc., faced are the same issues we face today. The Electoral College is still modern, it still works. There is zero reason to think that Hillary Clinton, one of the most flawed Presidential Candidates in history, would have been a better President than Trump and every reason to suspect the Electoral College delivered a correct result in 2016. The Electoral College works. Like I said: Go read how the Electoral College was born. Katherine Drinker Bowen: "Miracle at Philadelphia". Phenomenal book.

  56. @Michael I have read the book. I don't see how you could write that there is "zero" reason to think Hillary Clinton would have been a better president.. actually there are many reasons for believing that HRC would have been better. Our system was designed before anyone had ever run a national election. The electoral college was a guess - as was the nature of the presidency.

  57. @Michael The Founders also believed they could build a constitutional government without political parties, or “factions” as they called them. Yet they went on to form parties themselves. And when put to the ultimate stress test, the system they left us, with all their wisdom, could not resolve the issue of slavery without a major civil war. They were accomplished men and did the best they could. But I am very skeptical about regarding the Founders as the acme of political wisdom.

  58. @Michael, referencing a volume written in the late 60's by a conservative libertarian who isn't a historian, but rather a "fan girl" who self admittedly writes from a perspective of " celebration and admiration" is hardly an endorsement of the Electoral College. The Constitutional Convention was full of compromises that were necessary to form a new nation, but the form and character of the institutions it produced was never intended to be immutable. The Founders you evidently revere were well aware that they were kicking the can down the road on several very passionately debated topics, and assumed that later generations of Americans would tinker with and modify their original document. Just because they included something - the EC or slavery, for example - doesn't mean it was either a great idea, or shouldn't be changed. We need to get over the idea that the Constitution, and everything associated with it is somehow sacrosanct and can't be changed. The Founders readily admitted their shortcomings. Jefferson, Madison, Adams and the rest would be amazed and disappointed to see we haven't tinkered more in the spirit of their revolutionary ideas.

  59. I definitely believe a straight popular vote system would lead to specific urban mega populations having too much power, but I do see a compromise in taking away the “winner-take-all” aspect of the system. As troublesome as the primaries are in counting votes, the system for awarding delegates could be adapted to work in the general. This way, states such as Texas can award significant amount of electoral votes to each candidate.

  60. @Danny M So what? If that is where the bulk of the population lives, then absolutely they should have the most voice. The fallacy here is saying "New York would have more power". No! The PEOPLE of New York would have more power, because there are a LOT of them. And don't forget, there are Republicans and moderates in New York City. They voted for Giuliani for mayor a while back. Perhaps if Republicans had to campaign here, they would get more of those votes.

  61. @Danny M Having too much power why? Because there are more voters there? Oh noes!

  62. And D.C. really needs to be a 51st state, with House representation and two Senators. Not holding my breath on that one either...

  63. You make a reasoned case, but you might as well argue with the sun. The electoral college is hard-baked into the Constitution and can only be changed by an amendment that would require many of the smaller states that would lose influence to pass it. Some states have decided to apportion their electoral votes based on the national popular vote, but it would need to be universal to work properly. The best idea might be to apportion electoral votes by congressional district instead of winner take all, meaning Democrats could poach votes in red states and vice versa, as Nebraska and Maine now do. But that also would require a national consensus, and this country can't agree on anything right now.

  64. @StuAtl Exactly. So the question in the headline: "What if We Just Counted Up All the Votes for President and Saw Who Won?" is extremely easy to answer today - and in next 10 -20 years also: This result would be blatantly unconstitutional, therefore as irrelevant as it could be.

  65. @StuAtl Or we could adopt the National Vote Compact, wherein states pledge their electoral votes to the popular vote winner.

  66. @Bill B Yes but my point there is who are the "we" you speak of? States that would lose their proportional influence will never agree to this, likely not even a majority of them. It needs to be a national decision and that's all but impossible right now.

  67. Everything about our elections is undemocratic. For a start, we allow two private corporations to run their Primary Elections on the public dime. In these primary elections, a very small number of our citizens select the only two candidates whom the general public can then effectively choose among come the General Election. It is entirely likely that if we instead held open primaries where all candidates competed against each other and all citizens could vote, an entirely different set of candidates would emerge to face off in the General Election. Then there's the Electoral College. It blatantly violates the principle of "One person, one vote"; with it, more than 700,000 Californians only have the same weight as about 195,000 Wyoming voters. But it mightily helps keep the Republicans in power so we're unlikely to change it in our lifetimes as that would require supermajorities in the House and Senate and ratification by 75% of the states, most of which are in Republican hands. Finally, we come to campaign finance law. This is another area that is tilted to strongly favor the two incumbent parties and as such, they will never agree to change it, merely tinkering around the edges and hoping that we are hoodwinked into think that something has been done. Really, viewed dispassionately, American elections are nothing but a bad joke, a part of the panem et circenses meant to keep us docile.

  68. Indeed, the Electoral College is seriously outdated. In the 18th century, reasons existed that justified the idea. But none of them still apply today. The newly liberated Americans lived in a world where most people were poorly educated & lived in rural areas, without mass communication. Fearing that ignorant voters could be readily seduced by demagogue, the Founding Fathers envisioned the Electoral College as a council of wise men who could serve as a check on the impulses of the masses. That is an idea which served its purpose then, but is both unnecessary & counterproductive at this time. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to simply eliminate the Electoral College entirely. Doing so would require a constitutional amendment- so, both houses of Congress would have to vote to do so, & then it would have to be ratified by a majority vote of the legislatures of 38 states (3/4 of the states, as per the Constitution). Yes, if 13 states won't go along, we are helpless. One proposed solution with a lot of merit is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Once passed by the legislatures of states controlling enough electoral votes to guarantee a majority, this measure would assign those states' electoral votes to the popular vote winner, thereby assuring us that we will never again have a popular vote loser become POTUS. After our experience with Trump, that sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

  69. The Electoral College works as designed. What needs to be addressed is the absolutely undemocratic method in which the two political parties dominate the candidate selection process through a bizarre system of secretive primaries. Open up the candidate selection process to make it easier for third-party candidates and, yes, have a national "primary" day election where the national popular vote is tallied.

  70. Yeah, what if? A country that fails to evolve and adjust to a changing world, a country that refuses to meet the real needs and wants of the people and a country that instead, continues to cling to antiquated ideologies is a country on the decline. Just look at how the world's supposed leader in medical advances is handling a medical crisis. The average American is either in survival mode or distracted by toys. This is why we are so desperate for leaders with vision. But alas, here we are.

  71. Allocate Electoral College votes proportionally in each state. That would reduce the worst aspects of the EC while mollifying the originalists. Such a constitutional amendment would have kept us out of Iraq and Bush Jr. and Trump out of the Oval Office. Think of that for a moment.

  72. @ronala Proportional electoral voting isn't a solution to this problem. Because a state's electoral votes are the sum of their House and Senate representatives, each state has at least 3 votes, no matter how small. California has a population 68 times larger than Wyoming, but only has 18 times the number of electoral votes. That means that a vote in Wyoming is worth almost 4 votes in California.

  73. @ronala, Did Obama get us of Iraq?

  74. The electoral college performs the same basic function as the Senate. It gives small states the same kind of influence in an election as having two senators does in keeping RI competitive with CA. For these reasons the EC is not out of date. Or would people like to see the Senate abolished too?

  75. @R. Kline Sir, Why, if the Senate is already biased towards smaller states, should the Presidency also be biased in this way. As the Executive Office is só important and almost all-encompassing in the US, it should be 1 (wo)man = 1 vote.

  76. @R. Kline Yes! Abolishing the Senate is more important even than abolishing the Electoral College. The Senate was designed to prevent governance. Both institutions are obsolete 18th Century concepts that do not serve the needs of the nation in the 21st. They're horse drawn carriages clogging an interstate highway. And by what right does the Senate majority leader have so much power and control? None of us, unless we live in Kentucky, voted for McConnell, and yet this one man has vast authority over what gets done by the govenment. He can basically override issues that comes before the body for any reason that serves whatever his own purposes happen to be, and single handedly thwarts the will of the more democratic House of Representatives. It's irrational, corrupt, and not in the best interests of the people. We need to seriously rethink not only the Electoral College, but our entire system of govening; executive, legislative, and judical. The amount of money, time, and effort that goes into choosing a president is exhausting and absurd, especially when you examine the return on all that trouble. Most presidents are mediocre at best. The fact that the person who loses the vote can win the election is nothing short of pathological. A large component of our seemingly intractable problems and bad results have as much to do with the structure of our government as anything else. The Electoral College and the Senate are the prime examples of this dysfunctionality.

  77. This is by far the best way to handle such an election. Everything else - electoral college, or voting by parliament - just obfuscates the obvious. On the other hand special interests are not interested in a transparent and obvious process, because they are, well, special. Having Ohio or Florida matter more than California, is in the interest of Ohio and Florida. Ideally such a reform of the system would include the Senate as well, where a Senator from Vermont has the same importance as one from Texas, an absurd distortion of of the democratic principle of free and equal citizens.

  78. The idea that parties would work to change voters --- that's a joke! --- not going to happen. They will do what works: "fire up the base" and run "negative" to keep the other team's voters home .. do it nationwide. It's a party problem ... not an EC problem. Let call this for what it is ... it's an attempt by the Democrats to alter the rules in a way that they think will help them now ... Like Harry Reid did in the Senate .. we don't really know what will happen. Harry -- how did that work out for you? I can tell you one thing it will do if it works initially and the Democrats win an election that they would not have -- the small states will feel as if they have been hoodwinked. What it the reverse happens -- like if John Kerry had not forgotten OH and picked up the 60k votes he should have won. Would President Kerry have gone home because he won with 3M less votes? We are an evenly divide country -- lets face it. We should be working to expand voting ... not just fight for urban core votes that will distort the outcome. I'm from NYC and travel a lot -- the last thing we need is NYC telling the rest of the country what's best for them.

  79. @GT "the last thing we need is NYC telling the rest of the country what's best for them." That statement presumes that the residents of NYC agree on things.  I highly doubt that they do.  Do NYC whites vote the same as NYC blacks or the same as NYC browns?  Or NYC gays the same as NYC straights? How about NYC young versus NYC old?  Or NYC males versus NYC females, and on and on.  Big cities are as divided as the rest of the nation.  So I believe it's time for One Person One Vote!

  80. The idea that “NYC” (or LA or any “liberal” enclave) would tell the country what to do is absurd. Until our current President, I almost always voted Republican, so when it came to electing a President my vote didn’t count. New York was reliably blue. Shouldn’t a Republican New Yorker or a Texas Democrat know that their votes matter?

  81. @GT "the last thing we need is NYC telling the rest of the country what's best for them." How about Iowa and Steve King telling us what we must do?

  82. This has been and informative read. It undercuts the traditional rationale of the EC as existing to prevent large state interests from overwhelming those of states with lower populations. One matter that needs more thought before making changes is the impact of centralized disinformation on social media, hacking and false influencing in our electoral processes.

  83. Mr Wegman, don´t ask cmpaign managers who don´t have any experience with a popular vote/proportional representation-system you are advocating. They don´t have a clue about the real impact and so all their talks are anything but "political two-months weather forecasts." For better reliable forecast indicating what is to expect in future just look at what has happened in similar countries practising this system. An example: Your assumption, election-focussed regional bailouts would get unpopular in this system, based on the statement "Or consider Mr. Obama’s automaker bailout in 2009: unpopular in most of the country, but not in the upper Midwest — especially in states like Ohio and Michigan — home to many of the more than one million jobs the bailout saved and to dozens of electoral votes that Mr. Obama depended on for his re-election." is not true. In countries practising such popular vote/proportional representation systems such regional bailouts did not backfire in remote parts of the country that were not affected by the specific issues (Germany, France, Italy, UK also. UK has the first-past-the-post system but general elections in relatively balanced constituencies all over the country.) It helped for election reasons even there. (What went wrong here? Campaign managers and so you also are still sticking to traditional "battleground states"-reasoning. This reasoning will also be gone after a desired abolishment of EC so you can´t continue to think this way then.)

  84. Without the Senate and the Electoral College, there would have been no nation and if you tried to get rid of them now there would be no reason for two thirds of the states to remain in one. If you feel it is outdated then you must propose an amendment to change it. I know the left maintains that the constitution is outdated and that they (and only they) should be allowed to change it or interpret it to read whatever they wanted. Not even by the people, but by a handful of appointed judges. Then what would be the point of having a constitution? And, why did the founding fathers even bother with the amendment process. If that isn't enough reason, remember that there is now a conservative majority on the court and it will possibly go even further right. And, if the left can change it to what they want, so can the right. Those old guys in the 19th century were smarter than you think.

  85. @John 18th Century, surely? And why bother with the amendment process if it can't be used? Or if to propose its use is dubbed "left?" Flag burning, anti-abortion, gay marriage are all suitable as election time proposals for amendments, but democracy is not?

  86. Democracy is something worth defending, worth fighting for, even dying for. But the United States is not a democracy, and so long as we retain an institution that allows a minority of voters to control the most powerful branch of our government, we shall never be one. And, we will not survive as a nation.

  87. The only benchmark we have is the 17th Amendment, that took voting for Senate seats out of the hands of the legislature. The end result has been more political divide, as Senators are no longer accountable to their state legislatures, and their main function is campaigning. The Electoral College was a compromise between Congress voting for the President, and the people. It was a brilliant idea. What you are suggesting is disenfranchising millions of voters in rural areas, the people who work our factories and farm our food. Bad idea. In addition, the new problem is illegal voting. Let's face it, until we start voting like it's 2020 and not 1980 there will be fraud that negates legal votes. The electoral college overlooks illegal votes And the final reason is this; the Party not in power seeks a power that is both permanent and absolute, at any cost. Which is the motivation fro writing this column

  88. So this is how I interpret what you are saying: the "real Americans" in red states deserve to have their votes count four times as much as ours because they "grow our food" Blue states and cities are the economic engines of this country that allows those people to receive hundreds of millions in farm welfare, much of it going to wealthy industrial farmers. What a joke. I see you also believe the false narrative that we are commiting huge voter fraud here in Fake America. My state runs clean, orderly elections where nobody is waiting hours to vote. What happened to Kris Kobach's big investigation? We need one person, one vote. Our current system has given us an unmitigated disaster.

  89. The idea that rural voters will be “disenfranchised” by having their votes made equal in value to everyone else instead of being artificially inflated is pathetically indicative of the failure of conservative ideology. You are literally saying that conservatives are incapable of winning a majority of voters because their ideas are inferior, and yet we must still pretend that they are a majority and count their votes as if they were? Why does being a farmer mean you should get more say in government than anyone else? Why not just replace the entire government with farmers then? If conservatives actually had ideas that were beneficial to a majority of Americans, they would be able to convince a majority to vote for those ideas, regardless of where they lived. But since coming up with ideas that benefit a majority of Americans is either too difficult or too plebeian for conservatives to consider, they have to resort to whining about how unfair it would be to them if everyone’s vote was counted equally. Pathetic.

  90. Obvious but irrelevant, because Republicans will never agree to it. Red states will never ratify any change, because the electoral college so strongly increases their influence and tips the balance of power in their favor. For the next few decades, we could easily have a situation where the Democrat routinely wins the popular vote by 5 percent or more every time, but always loses the election. It would tear the country apart, but I doubt even that will be enough to bring change. And if the roles were reversed, I doubt Democrats would give up such an advantage either.

  91. Two of the three presidents "elected" this century lost the popular vote. Clearly, we have no claim to being a democracy. But to change it would take the good will and cooperation of the one party and the many small states that benefit from this undemocratic system. In this divided polity, how likely is that to occur? Until and unless the party hobbled by the current, antiquated and profoundly undemocratic system somehow achieves the supermajority needed to reform it, reform will never happen, and this country will never be able to truthfully call itself a democracy.

  92. @Jim Cornelius, We are a Republic, not democracy. Remember your Pledge of Allegiance?

  93. The Electoral college has molded the most successful country on the planet. It's rural bias is a feature not a bug and any attempt to overthrow it will be seen as a violent attack on the constitution which enshrine the states as the original authority of the federal government.

  94. @Bruce Russell we were successful because we had land available and no entrenched peasantry. Canada and Australia were and are similarly successful. And all three of us stole land from the indigenous peoples too. The funny thing about the states is that they all (except for Texas and the first 13) were creations of federal land. That we granted them supremacy over the federal government was a mistake.

  95. As other commenters have already said, this is an excellent, well reasoned analysis based on the faulty premise that the modern day GOP actually wants representative democracy. It's abundantly clear that it does not. But the effort to try to make this happen should prove highly entertaining, and very revealing. November 3, in overwhelming numbers.

  96. Enhancing the weight of voters in NY and CA (relative to other states)? That seems like a bad idea. Also, NH should be added to the list of battleground states.

  97. National voting does not enhance the weight of the large states. Instead, it equalizes the weight of individual voters' votes across all states. It gives a California Republican's vote the same weight as a Mississippi Democrat's.

  98. It is not “enhancing” to make people’s votes count!!

  99. Since Congress will never, ever, vote to get rid of the Electoral College, the task can -- and must -- be taken up by state legislatures. Replacing winner-take-all outcomes with delegates selected on the basis of the percentage of the total state vote for each candidate is the answer that bypasses the Congressional choke point. This solution has the added benefit of motivating each Party to press for its rightful share of the total Presidential vote, which in turn would lead to the resurgence of state party organizations that have become moribund in states where they are likely always to be in the minority. It's not rocket science, in other words. Just common sense that restores at least a better balance of political sentiment.

  100. Or force removal of the "winner-take-all" rules so that electors are proportional to popular vote. Either that, or we need to redefine exactly what we mean by a "state." Currently, our states are not merely federal administrative districts, but entities separate from the federal government (though has lessened dramatically since the writing of the Constitution). Perhaps it's time for all the state legislatures to commit constitutional suicide and make themselves federal entities. A lot of problems would be solved by this (though local politics would become relatively pointless).

  101. Abolishing the Electoral College now might satisfy an irritated yearning for direct democracy, but it would also mean dismantling Federalism. It’s not so simple as the author has alluded to. If we remove the Electoral College - why would we need a a separate Congress - specifically the Senate - which after all represents the interests of the States. We structure everything in our political system around the idea of a federation that divides power between the states and the federal government. States had to ratify the Constitution through state conventions, state legislatures are required for ratifying constitutional amendments, and even the Constitution itself can only be terminated by action of the states in a national convention. Federalism is embedded in our nation and abolishing the Electoral College would point toward doing away with the entire federal system. None of this will create a more democratic election system. It’s also worth remembering that our Founding Fathers spent an extraordinary amount of attention on the subject - it was heavily debated. If anything, the Electoral College was was designed to act as safety mechanism on over-mighty Presidents, who might use a popular majority to claim they were authorized to speak for the people against Congress. And from that we have a lot more to fear than from the Electoral College. One last item - in the history of our Country, there have only been 5 occasions in which the popular vote did not align with the College.

  102. @Joseph Swartz Direct democracy means citizens voting on individual laws. Aside from a few hot-button ballot measures, nobody is proposing that.

  103. Get rid of partisan gerrymandering, and put redistricting in the hands of a bipartisan commission. Have ALL states use a primary system, and get rid of caucuses. Let’s also take our current primary season and change it to where groups of ideologically balanced 12-13 states and territories vote every other week for a period of eight weeks. Rotate the groups every four years, like how it’s done in volleyball, so that everyone gets a shot to go first every 16 years. Do that, and suddenly instead of playing to the extreme left or right, candidates will have to try to appeal to conservative and liberal states at the same time.

  104. What seems lost is any consideration of what it possible. In fact, one party is happy to hold on to power by exploiting the electoral college, gerrymandering and the senate - which is itself an anti-democratic institution.

  105. @Terry McKenna You know Terry the country tried to fix the slavery problem and allowed black men to vote in 1870. The democrat party in the south, the Yellow Dogs, held blacks back for a hundred more years. This was the history, to refute your suppositions that didn't happen. This illustrates our differences as you are reactionary and I am factual. Trump outworked and outsmarted Hillary, Period! And the sequel is ready to begin. You are Welcome!

  106. The Electoral College guarantees that Americans from each and every state will have a voice and helps preserve democratic representation. Otherwise people from big states could control everything. Our founders knew what they were doing.

  107. @Gail S But they still get congress(wo)men, and the same number of senators as any other state. That means they still have legislative power. But running for president, with a national vote, would require the nominees to not only fixate on their base.

  108. Gail, so is it okay that just a few of the states, the swing states, decide the election? That’s my problem. It always comes down to a few states that decide. That’s why I advocate for the popular vote because then everyone of our vote matters across the US.

  109. @Gail S You are so right. This newspaper AND the democrat party are "hurt" and "upset" that Trump beat their precious Hillary who was a "terrible" candidate. Now they want to change the rules to overcome the bad joke, Biden, they are running to lose the Presidency in November. Instead of looking inward to understand their loss in 2016, they are attacking those who voted against them. Not Smart! One of our founding fathers were smarter than the entire NY Metro Region!

  110. The core problem seems to be the "winner take all" aspect, not the whole of the Electoral College. Take the 2016 results and rank the popular vote in each state against the number of electors and there is not only better distribution of the popular vote, but more room for third parties to gain a seat at the political table, which could significantly break the Democrat / Republican duopoly we've been stuck with. That in itself would be more democratic as well.

  111. Our country is based on a UNION OF STATES. The states elect the president of this Union. A popular election of the president would strike at the very heart of federalism. Because of the many federal lawsuits that would result contesting votes in certain precincts across the nation, the United States Supreme Court would end up choosing the president in any close or not so close election. We must preserve the concept of our Union of States and always remember that we are a republic and not a democracy.

  112. @DAVID MARING The nightmare scenario you mentioned with the supreme Court choosing the president already happened just 20 years ago.

  113. @DAVID MARING How non woke can you get? Great comment.

  114. You must be a Republican. How else could you be happy that 2 out of the last 2 Republican presidents lost the popular vote?

  115. Good article, good comments. Having just relistened to “John Adams”, he feared the tyranny of the majority. As do those against going with the popular vote. Here in Oregon, the minority Republicans have again walked out of the legislature over cap-and-trade proposals- which would disadvantage the rural areas of our state, dependent on heavy machinery. The electoral college is basically, affirmative action for small states. But what if, in exchange for going with a national popular vote, we (say, in a Constitutional Convention) gave affirmative action leverage to each state’s rural areas. That is where the divide is, in nearly every state; rural v. urban. So in our state legislature, rural counties would be given a balancing .....advantage; increased number of representatives, increased power of each of their votes....some formula to give a rough equivalent to rural and urban. It would force states to deal with that divide- as you say...perhaps economic development plans for rural areas, lesser gun control, etc- any number of compromises to recognize the difference. Trade a national popular vote for keeping the affirmative action on the state levels. It might sell. ??

  116. Thanks for a careful, thorough analysis of the reasons why the Electoral College has become an obstacle to democracy. The elections of 2000 and 2016 both resulted in a President who had clearly lost the popular vote. Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been disastrous. He grossly mishandled the crisis of Katrina in New Orleans. Trump’s problematic policies have been too many to articulate here. More importantly, he has undermined much of the democratic principles on which the USA was built. Seems very clear to me that it is time to eliminate the Electoral College.

  117. Simple test: would he have written this column if Republicans had been winning popular vote and losing in the Electoral College to Democrats. Anser: never. This is not a sincere objection. It's a personal preference political objection. Should our national elections be resolves by California, New York, Florida, Illiinois and Texas? I hope not. What Wegman misses is that the Electoral College and the proportionally unequal representation in the Senate are the glue that holds the country together. It is a severely myopic New York selfishness that forgets that elections that permanently wipe out the impact of the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, Connecticut, Oklahoma etc. would tear the country apart.

  118. @Allan H. The Electoral College is not holding this country together. It is tearing it apart, because Americans have been subjected, twice in this century, to minority rule. We will be cleaning up after the disastrous minority Trump presidency for years. The proportionally unequal Senate does in fact provide for representation for less populous states. That is good. But the executive should be chosen by the majority of the people, and should try--as Trump does not--to represent all of the people. When you say that the electoral college is the "glue," I suspect you are speaking as a republican who is reasonably happy with Trump. I'm speaking as a democrat who is subjected to the misrule of an increasingly extremist/populist Republican Party.

  119. @Allan H. Nobody campaigns in Oklahoma, the Dakotas, Idaho, Wyoming, or Connecticut now, either. If anything, eliminating the Electoral College would enfranchise Republican voters in urban states, and Democrats in rural states. The author was careful to say that this would not be a panacea for Democrats, and I agree.

  120. @Allan H. "Should our national elections be resolves by California, New York, Florida, Illiinois and Texas? I hope not." No, they should be resolved by everyone equally. That is what a popular vote would mean. Why, instead, should they be resolved by Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio? Which is what we ACTUALLY have now? No answer to that eh?

  121. Their have been several arguments about the Electoral College and how anachronistic it is and how unfair it is. I hold no particular viewpoint but would like to point this out; The only time this comes up is when Democrats lose a presidential election while winning the popular vote, KNOWING FULL WELL, that the only way to win the Presidential election is by winning the Electoral College. DEMOCRATS knew the rules and completely flubbed it twice in the past 20 years. With all the ways we need to move forward in this country, we seem to lose focus on what is really important and get drawn into unwinable political battles. I fell the Electoral College will eventually be eliminated, until it does perhaps we an focus on trying to re-establish a government that has been thrown into chaos by President Trump. IF Democrats lose the election again to Trump, knowing full well that they need to win the Electoral College and don't while winning the Popular vote, I again won't blame the system. I will blame the Democrats for not understanding how our system works, not coming up with a message that is good for ALL Americans and for generally being a party which just does not know how to win. Quit blaming the game and blame the players.

  122. @Chris @Chris "not coming up with a message that is good for ALL Americans"... or only those who live in swing states? You are arguing against yourselves without even realizing it...

  123. The electoral college problem was created because the founders did not trust democracy as much as we like to believe. Switching to a popular vote would not solve all of the presidential election problems discussed. As long as the RNC and DNC control who can run and party fealty is more important than representing one's constituency, little will be gained with regard to representative government. What might make for a more democratic and less divisive outcome would be rank ordering voting, where voters can chose their first, second and third, etc. choices, and a system of weighting those choices so that the greatest satisfaction with outcome across the electorate might be possible. For example, in our current situation and casting Bernie as the socialist he is, 45% of the voters might support Trump as a first choice, and 50% see him as the last choice, 5% as second choice. 20 % see Bernie as first, and 40% see him as last choice, and 40% in second. Biden could get 35% first choices and 45% of second choices and 15% last. In this case, Biden becomes president and the greatest number of people get their first or second choice and the electorate is less prone to division along party lines.

  124. I find Mr. Wegman's arguments compelling, but the fact remains that it would require a constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college. This means that 3/4 of the states would have to agree to the change. A direct vote would diminish the influence of smaller, more rural states, while enhancing the electoral power of big cities. It seems unlikely that the sixteen states with the smallest populations would discern any advantage to changing the current system.

  125. @James Lee You are correct. A constitutional amendment is crushingly difficult. But you forget the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement which states can enter into to capture the Electoral College. Each state joining the compact agrees to allocate its electors to the winner of the national popular vote if and when states which aggregate to more than 270 electoral votes join it. Presto! The national popular vote drives the EC.

  126. @James Lee That is just not true. Big-cities states like California and New York are safe, and thus useless to campaign in, but so are rural states like Idaho and Montana. Conservative states like Mississipi or Utah, liberal states like Massachusetts or Washington. The point is not rural vs. urban, nor it is small vs. large, and it hasn't been for a long time. The point is safe vs. non-safe, and there is no plausible rationale for saying that voters should be considered only if they randomly happened to live in a swing state; yet that's what we have now.

  127. Really diagree w this. No electoral college means we never listen to the needs of rural people ever again. However house redistribution and adding points to some high population states would be a good move.

  128. @Brian Brennan Why not? We would listen to then just as we would listen to everyone. I don't get it why a system that explicitly disenfranchise voters from "safe" state (which also include sizable population of rural voters, btw) would be more representative than a system that does not.

  129. @Brian Brennan A rural persons vote is a lot more powerful than mine with the electoral college (3.6x). The choice of where I live in modern America should not give a rural person power over 3.6 people.

  130. Not true. rural states would still be overly represented in the Senate. Remember, a rural state such as Idaho is represented just as much as the populous state of California ... 2 each. However, I see a "doable" alternative, at least at this point, as doing away with the "winner takes all" in the EC. The delegates should represent how the states' people voted. Earn 2/3 the vote, get 2/3 the delegates.

  131. It seems the original reasoning was that the US was very much a federal republic, states were the important entities and the central government not so much. A bit like Europe today. But ask yourselves, has that really changed that much. Aren't the states very different in their cultures and laws? And don't they want to stay that way?

  132. @Andreas I'll respond to myself: yes, the Republic has changed immeasurably from what it was in 1788. The role of the states has diminished a lot, that of the federal government has increased. And the people know this very well; witness how many more people vote for President (even in this skewed system) than they do for state and local elections.

  133. @Andreas it used to be that way before the civil war. Since then, we've been moving more and more toward a stronger central government.

  134. @Andreas Since the founding we now have Marbury v Madison which established the supremacy of the Supreme Court over state supreme courts. We have a national military that is quite extensive and powerful. We have the interpreted the commerce clause in ways that give federal laws considerable primacy over states. We enforced an end to slavery and legalized segregation. We are one country. No citizen should lose any basic rights as a result of moving from one state to another. Finally, I doubt many of us who go overseas ever say, "I'm a Virginian" or whatever. We are Americans. I do object to having to eat grits in the South, but I'm willing to leave them to it.

  135. There are almost as many registered Republicans in California as there are people in the Wisconsin. I wonder many of those California Republicans stay home for presidential elections because they know California will go blue and think that their vote doesn’t count. Getting rid of the electoral college will boost voter turnout which is a good thing.

  136. This article is absolutely on the mark. The erasure of most states in the electoral college process is the most damaging effect of not using national popular vote. It really has nothing to do with urban and rural or liberal and conservative.

  137. This is an absolute no-brainer. The sooner we get to a simple national popular vote the better for society and our democracy. Our nation’s leadership should reflect the wishes of the majority of its citizens.

  138. @Michael you do know we live in the “United STATES of America” not UniAmerica. I would change the winner take all rule for state electoral votes. An excellent real example: 2016 GOP winner take all Versus 2020 Democratic proportional primaries. The first gave us a wannabe dictator and the second looks to provide the conciliator to repair the damage

  139. I agree with Mr. Wegman. The Electoral College as currently constituted is destructive to our democracy, not unifying but dividing us. We need less polarization in this country, if we want it to remain "one country indivisible." As to the rights of the states who benefit disproportionately from the current system, we still have the Senate which offers outsized power to states with very small populations, a huge support to federalism, if that is what is worrying some people who oppose neutering the Electoral College. It is hard to feel that a President is legitimate when he or she is elected by the minority of the population. The end of the tyranny of the Electoral College is the way to bolster our democracy and bring unity to this country.

  140. Don't ask for what you want Jesse you may get it. Several times in history when one side carped because something adversely affected them and changed the system it backfired. The biggest one in modern history was when the republicans were ticked off because FDR served four times and limited the presidency to two terms. It very probably prevented Reagan from a third term. Yes, one can disagree re the electoral college but come up with reasons to end it not when your side loses but when it wins or is not affected.

  141. The electoral college gives each state a choice in how it wants its votes counted. If a state believes that proportional electoral college votes will garner more attention from candidates, it is free to choose that system. On the other hand, a small state can maximize its weight by choosing a winner takes all system - similar to electing a senator. Let voters decide at a state level how they'd like their votes apportioned.

  142. Use Rank Choice Voting. Not the plurality , but a real majority in an instant runoff.

  143. At the very least the EC should be reorganized to give each state a number electors proportional to its population. As it is it gives them that number plus 2, giving states like Vermont and Wyoming triple the weight they ought to have. But beyond that winner take all elections have another pernicious effect: locking us into 2, and only 2, factions with no incentive to compromise or build coalitions. With a legislature chosen by proportional voting other parties would emerge, Bernie Sanders wouldn't be a Democrat, for instance, and Mitt Romney wouldn't be a Republican. An array of parties would need to find partners, find ways to work together, find ways to moderate instead of sharpen their differences.

  144. The Electoral College is not my biggest concern. I see a serious need to get these primary elections out of the hands of "party volunteers" and into the hands of non-partisan government workers. The minute the public had a look at the first and second rounds of voting at the Iowa caucus and the incredible math errors, it became obvious that volunteers should not be handling the process, which is too complicated. All 50 states should have Open Primary elections and Ranked Choice voting to simplify and improve voting. That way, all registered voters would have an easy path to vote for the candidate of their choice, regardless of party affiliation and then list their second-choice. The way it stands now, both parties have their preferred rules and regulations that suppress independent (non-party-affiliated) voters, and sometimes rules that suppress minority voters, especially by shutting down polling places in poor neighborhoods causing long lines and transportation to other areas.

  145. @mjpezzi Government workers beholden to the party in power?

  146. @mjpezzi The parties aren't part of the government. It's already wrong that we use the government apparatus (board of elections, etc.) to help those private organizations select their nominees at taxpayer expense. Now you want to enshrine "who's the GOP nominee," "who's the Democratic nominee" etc. as an official government function? Pass. I'm with you on the ranked choice voting though. P.S. There is no such thing as a "non-partisan government worker."

  147. Retry to stay on topic.

  148. Yes, it's time for a more democratic process, but maybe not a simple popular vote. Consider what would happen in the case of a very close election -- and there have been six elections in U.S. history in which the popular vote margin was less than 1%. We'd need a nationwide recount. Imagine the recount in Florida in 2000, with its hanging chads and dimpled chads and butterfly ballots, but played out everywhere. What a mess! Instead, we could count votes by Congressional district. The candidate who wins the most districts wins. Yes, that's less democratic than a direct popular vote, but it avoids the recount problem.

  149. It is the United States. This matters. You can’t just wave a wand and say popular vote. You can’t just say no winner takes all. Up to the states to cast their vote. Very important. It’s what makes our country work. A rigid single federal rules country doesn’t work. It is the genius of the United States.

  150. @Jane It isn't working. Look at the past week.

  151. @Maureen Yes, it is a fair point. But... ignoring that is in important that states matter in solutions are non-starters. That was my point. Best to make solutions that maintain states as a thing.

  152. @Maureen Actually, since it is still in existence, it continues to work as it has for over 200 years.

  153. We claim to be a democratic republic. The president will often be the person receiving less votes as the country becomes more urban. That is inimical to democracy. The senate is a totally anti-democratic institutionand it appoints the judiciary. So, some 20% of states constitute a majority of senators and the leader of the country can be appointed by 45% of Americans over the wishes of 55% or more of their fellow citizens. D.C.'s citizens have no vote in the senate despite representing more American citizens than some states. Puerto Rico has more American citizens than almost half of the states and has no senate vote and no electoral vote for president. This is preposterous. The argument for protecting states- not people- is specious. Republicans will not cede power to allow their fellow citizens a voice in how they are governed. The system will not be abandoned until TX, FL & GA become blue states. But an apologia suggesting this is a good design has no legs.

  154. This is an excellent article. The question is how does the system get changed? I could not detect any suggestions by the author for solutions. From my perspective, to tackle fundamental issues like this we would need real leadership on both sides of the isle...and at every level. This unfortunately is not going to happen, given our short-term way of thinking in politics and our society....everything is about “winning” and what’s in it for me today and not the bigger picture of the country as a whole in the long-term. Otherwise we would get rid of the electoral college system and gerrymandering of congressional districts immediately. An independent voice.

  155. Ranked choice voting, and maybe I'm in. With more of the electorate registered as Independent than either of the corrupt and long past sell-by parties, it's clear that a solid chunk of the electorate feels unrepresented by either. Afraid of third party or Independent candidates? Too bad, both parties got us to this point in the first place. .

  156. A Constitutional Amendment to change the Electoral College will require 2/3 of both houses of Congress and ¾ of the state legislatures. That is not likely to happen. In the meantime, we should admit Puerto Rico and Washington, DC as states. That can be achieved with only a simple majority in both houses of Congress and the signature of the President. This would likely provide a 1% shift toward Democrats in the Electoral College. This would also make the Senate more representative of America, providing a likely shift of 4 Senators toward the Democrats, as well as adding more ethnic diversity. If in January 2021 there is a Democratic President with a Democratic House and Senate, this should be the first priority. Once it is done, it is irreversible.

  157. All true, and obviously so. How about considering a realistic solution to the problem? The constitution will never be amended to abolish the Electoral College; too many states have a vested interest in its preservation. But if states representing 270 electoral votes were to adopt the legislation suggested by the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, we would effectively solve this problem. The compact provides that that legislation, requiring each adopting state to cast its electoral votes for the candidate who wins the popular vote, would become law in each adopting state as soon as states representing 270 electoral votes adopted it. In a stroke, that would effectively end the system described in this article and ensure the election of the national vote winner. This is perfectly constitutional—under the constitution, each state determines how to apportion its electoral votes—and politically feasible. As of today, this legislation has been adopted by fifteen states and the District of Columbia, representing 196 electoral votes. A solution to the vexing problem the author describes is within our reach!

  158. The Electoral College is a problem. But the problem is made much worse by the fact that the number of congressional representatives hasn’t increased in 100 years. Because of that and the fact that each state gets at least on representative in the house means that voters in low population states get more say than voters in large population states. Increase the membership in the house and many of these issues will be fixed.

  159. @Godzilla De Tukwila The Senate has that problem, but not the House of Representatives. The House of Reps is representative. The problem is the liberal states continue to lose Reps because more people are moving to conservative & purple states. Don't blame the government for that.

  160. Do an internet search for "US elections ranked worst among western democracies" and you will find dozens of stories about an Electoral Integrity Project conducted by Harvard and the University of Sydney which, as the search terms indicate, show the US ranking LAST in key metrics of democracy. Why? The primary reason is money -- in the US financial power buys a lot of political power. No doubt, the Electoral College is an outdated and undemocratic institution, but it's merely one aspect of system of elite rule based on capitalism's economic disenfranchisement of the majority of working people. In a nation where the vast majority own little wealth and are living hand-to-mouth is real democracy even possible?

  161. @ando arike You claim "the Electoral College is . . . one aspect of system of elite rule based on capitalism's economic disenfranchisement of the majority of working people. " Just the reverse. The Electoral College prevents the elite -- the rich and powerful in the populous coastal states -- having dictatorial control over the "fly-over" states, as they derisively refer to them, ensuring that farmers, ranchers, manufacturing employees don't become vassals of Wall Street.

  162. Having to seriously campaign in only 2-4 states to determine an election gives lie to the legitimacy of the Electoral College. One person, one vote. What's so hard about it?

  163. If the USA were a popular vote country, political machines that control hundreds of thousands of votes could throw the results whichever way they wanted. Such machines still exist today. They are in our big cities, and big cities are all controlled by the Democratic Party. National popular votes would be controlled by that party. They could own any national vote by distorting the count in their city. Instead of Chicago owning Illinois or New York City owning New York State like they do they would now own the whole country, naming whomever they wanted our new President. That is why the Democrats want to eliminate the Electoral College system. Not because they want "every vote to count;" they wanted "every vote to count" in Florida in 2000, and sued in court to throw out all the absentee votes from overseas post offices, all 1,500 of them from US servicemen serving overseas, mostly conservatives, and won. They sued to throw out every vote from Republican Martin County, some 34,000, because, they said, several hundred, which they couldn't identify, were technically wrong. They lost that one. A popular vote to "Make every vote count" would allow the bosses in Chicago, New York City, Houston, L,A., etc., disenfranchise the entire country.

  164. @Diogenes I remember busloads of republicans set loose on polling places to disrupt the vote count. But what I remember most is the decisive vote by Sandra Day O'Connor to favor GW Bush.

  165. If we took the lid off the house of reps and had each district roughly the same size (one person one vote) as it is written in the constitution that would have the same effect as getting rid of the EC.

  166. @APS I wrote a piece on Myspace (remember that?) about 20 years ago called "5000 Voices" which presented that very issue. It is only a matter of regular law that the House is capped like it is, and a matter of practical considerations like getting everyone to fit in one building. But if each rep district was smaller, and they used the Internet correctly...

  167. I agree that the Electoral College is outdated and unnecessary in 21st Century America. But getting rid of it will be a challenge. As long as the Republicans are in charge of the Senate, it won't happen. They would be voting themselves out of contention for the White House. Just like term limits. It's a great idea, but I seriously doubt that any Senator or Representative will vote themselves out of a job. JMHO YMMV.

  168. The founding fathers had very good foresight, the Electoral College work just as designed, individual states protected from mob rule. It truly is an ingenious system.

  169. Would you please explain why a voter in Wyoming (for example) should have a multiple weight over a vote in California (for example)?

  170. @Jimd Yes, and do away with Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and all other programs at the Federal level (all but the military) and have each state pay its own way. Let's see how that works.

  171. @Jimd The tyranny of an uninformed minority might put us all in danger. We could end up with a senate ruled by an insane criminal in the white house. What could be worse?

  172. @Ronala, I too liked the idea of awarding Electoral College votes proportionally like in NE and ME across the country. When applied to the 2016 Election Results, the gap between DJT and HRC closed, but DJT would have still prevailed. Is that result another condemnation of the EC or is it illustrative of HRC'S Campaign to skip some places believing, "yeah we got that state"? The idea of having three or 4 party's each earning proportional EC votes in each state is interesting, but I am guessing that this would be akin to what 3rd party's do now. The Brilliant Founders either over thought Presidential Elections and the EC or caved into the "lesser angels" of a futuristic cynical few.

  173. The Founders set up our system after long deliberations taking into consideration the risk of having urban centres completely controlled by a rural populations and possibly the opposite in the future of what was a majority rural population at the time. I find it interesting that the same people who will tell you they want protection and rights for "minorities" also want to see a country as geographically diverse as ours be run and controlled by a handful of urban centres that would likely ignore the citizens of the geographical majority of the nation.

  174. @Si Seulement Voltaire A geographic majority? What is that? Acres don’t vote, people do. This system is not sustainable, and the fact that it has lasted 250 years sure doesn’t mean it will last another 100.

  175. @Si Seulement Voltaire around 85% of the US population live in urban centres. It’s about time this false and rather racist narrative of ‘real Americans’ living in rural areas and small towns was jettisoned. Among other things, it props up the unfair electoral college system.

  176. @Kevin McLin Acres don't vote; polities do. California is a polity. Wyoming is a polity. Etc. That said, we should definitely scrap winner-take-all apportionment of those polities' electoral votes.

  177. Both the electoral college and 2 Senators from each state should be jettisoned. It's common sense for those that believe in majority rule rather than minority rule.

  178. @ernie Would you say the same about all "minority rights and special privileges" in general or only for minority rural populations?

  179. @ernie Minority rule is a lie.

  180. @Dave Kerr One man one vote is the fair way to do it. Hillary should have been President. You want to talk about lies. Look at the joke of a President we got.

  181. Most of the comments here focus on the Republicans' opposition to a popular vote because they are losing the popular vote and winning in the electoral college. But there is another issue. Popular vote should not equal a plurality vote. Popular vote would take the election away from the political parties, who would not be missed by most. But it would also encourage more candidates. Think of all the rich men who would run. We already have one in office. Bloomberg openly aspired to buy the presidency and was rising rapidly in the polls until Elizabeth Warren exposed him. With so many candidates, someone is going to win with less than a majority of votes. Which is how Trump, Obama, G. W. Bush, and Clinton were elected. There must be a mechanism to ensure that the person elected enjoys the support of a majority of voter. The mechanism exists. It is ranked choice voting. That is better than a runoff which happens at a later date when turnout would be reduced, and would be expensive.

  182. Without a Constitutional Convention, the reality is that you will never get 3/4 of the states to abolish the Electoral College. Same is true for abolishing the Second Amendment. But beware what you wish for. At a Constitutional Convention, the entire Constitution, and its existing Amendments, would be up for grabs, endangering our entire history and tradition of Constitutional law.

  183. @RM : like most lefty dreams, they never imagine a dream becoming a nightmare. What if a Constitutional Convention was not totally run by liberal Dems, but ended up dominated by conservatives? And they pass new laws banning abortion! And take away birthright citizenship! and retroactively, so they can deport all anchor babies! Be careful of what you wish for. Likewise: if the left "packs the Court" with 20 new Justices….what happens when Republicans get in power? that court could end up with 20 new GOP Justices! If Trump were stacking the Court this way -- increasing the NUMBER of Justices -- liberals would be screaming "treason"!

  184. G W Bush beat Al Gore by virtue of a disputed, poorly-managed vote count in Florida, a state governed by GW's brother. The US Supreme Court compounded the problem by refusing to remand Bush v. Gore to the Florida Supreme Court. The Democrats should have conceded that election only if the Republicans agreed to work with them to abandon the Electoral College and determine the winner of subsequent presidential elections by the national popular vote. The Democrats failed to act then, so they lost again in 2016 despite winning the majority of the vote. After 2016, the Democrats had another opportunity to say that they will never again accept the results of an election determined by the Electoral College. Unfortunately, they did nothing thereby setting up a potential constitutional crisis in 2020 if Biden wins 9 million more votes but Trump manages to pull off an EC victory under suspicious circumstances. For Dems to argue against the Trump victory after the election would be unacceptable. To do so ahead of time, would be to mandate change. Those who would argue that the Dems are pursuing power at the expense of the Constitution need to understand that political power cannot always evolve through electoral processes and constitutional processes alone because obsolete, corrupted institutions block their very reform. The notion that the Dems should ever again accept the results of the Electoral College to the detriment of the nation is an affront to democracy and reason.

  185. @Utahn FFS. Do your homework. The reason why Bush beat Gore in Florida is because 200,000 registered Democrats voted for Bush. The reason: NAFTA.

  186. Fast forward twenty years, if current demographic trends continue (they may not) the current situation will get much, much worse. The majority of people in this country are not going to put up with having their votes count for nothing versus voters in a handful of states, many of them with small populations, who wield outsize power. Most of the arguments against reform ignore this fact. Yet the Constitution seems to provide no path forward absent the willingness of a great many currently advantaged Americans to give up their privilege. Absent that we are no longer a democracy and can stop pretending. (I know, I love it when conservatives reply, "but we aren't a democracy, we're a republic." We can also talk about oligarchic power, but that's another discussion.)

  187. @Thomas The Constitution may not provide a path forward, but legislation does. The National Popular Vote bill provides an ingenious way to render the EC a nullity. I urge everyone to to take a look at this website: https://www.nationalpopularvote.com/

  188. Fast forward twenty years, if current demographic trends continue (they may not) the current situation will get much, much worse. The majority of people in this country are not going to put up with having their votes count for nothing versus voters in a handful of states, many of them with small populations, who wield outsize power. Most of the arguments against reform ignore this fact. Yet the Constitution seems to provide no path forward absent the willingness of a great many currently advantaged Americans to give up their privilege. Absent that we are no longer a democracy and can stop pretending. (I know, I love it when conservatives reply, "but we aren't a democracy, we're a republic." We can also talk about oligarchic power, but that's another discussion.)

  189. Red states have a ridiculous monopoly on power between the outdated electoral college and the fact that they have lopsided influence in the Senate with each state getting two no matter the population. But the GOP can only control this for so long - changing demographics will eventually make our government more representative of all Americans. That is something they cannot stop.

  190. @Maureen Sadly, no, you are assuming that as the rural states "die out" or that people move to the cities, that this will change things. Even as the older, white voters die off that make up the GOP base and the red state hegonomy, the small states likely will not change much because no one else is moving there, but as their population declines their influence stays the same. Montana has the population of the county I live in, yet has the same power in the Senate my state does, and there are a lot more of these 'little' s states then large population ones. One of the things that skewed things was when senators became elected, when they were appointed by legislatures and governors, they were less tied to the 'passion of the people'.The Senate back then was the upper house, today it has become a mirror of the house, it is why a crumb bum like McConnell can stay in office or Ted Cruz, because they appeal to the same inanity reps often do.

  191. Excerpt from an article by the American Bar Association: "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." One of the reasons that past attempts have failed is that the electoral college is favorable to small population states which have consistently voted them. This is based on the same dynamic as we see in the United States senate where these states are awarded disproportionate representative power. Unfortunately, changing any of this will be virtually impossible as the constitutional rules for doing so are pretty much iron clad. We need to figure out how to bend the rules. Actually changing them is not going to happen.

  192. @Karlene Or maybe what Democrats can do is start appealing to the middle of the country. Just a thought.

  193. Right. And we hate being told election after election after election that our vote doesn't really "count" or that some other demographic or geographic group will "decide the election." I always vote - it's in my DNA - but honestly I sometimes wonder why I bother. The Electoral College has outlived its usefulness.

  194. The founding fathers did not foresee the creation of North /South Dakota in order to shore up the Republican numbers in the Senate, nor did they anticipate a 30 million plus California which deserves a slew more Senators. No other democracy depends on an electoral college, we have an albatross!

  195. @Jean Lindsey : Senators do not represent population. They represent the STATES as EQUALS. Without the Senate, small states would have literally no voice in US Government. Everything would be decided by California and NY State. NO THANK YOU!

  196. If I were designing a system for choosing the top officials of a republic, I certainly wouldn't have a winner-take-all plurality vote. To have the consent of the governed be meaningful, you want to let *everyone* have their fair share of influence. Otherwise, the system manifests only consent of that group whose opinions count -- which is often a minority, in a plurality system. As a first step, I would have majority vote, not plurality. The least we should consider doing would be to insist that more people are in favor of a candidate than opposed, before we say that we hand that candidate the reins of power. Donald Trump got 46.1% of the vote, and Hillary Clinton got 48.2%. Who should we have said won? Neither! Sure, calling 48% support a mandate to rule isn't quite as wrong as calling 46%, but it's still wrong. It still means that more people voted against Clinton than for her. And that's just from those who actually voted. Their actual support was 26.5% for Clinton and 26.3% for Trump, relative to the number of eligible voters. We need, at a minimum, ranked-choice voting with NOTA (none of the above) as one of the options, and some kind of viable institutional arrangement for what to do if NOTA wins. But the system shouldn't be about taking sides to pick winners in the first place. It should be designed to promote broad participation, sound deliberation, and just compromise.

  197. Today the electoral college. Tomorrow the SCOTUS. How many institutions are progressives going to abolish just because they lost an election?

  198. @AACNY : I am sure -- like me -- you read these liberal forums with some anxiety. There are a fair number of folks (a minority, but an elite and wealthy one!) that want to end Freedom of Speech. They hate the US Constitution, and basically want to turn us into some other nation -- Sweden? -- with a Parliament and no Bill of Rights. Just above you, a sincere lefty calls for censorship of media and elimination of any conservative voices. In other forums, I've been gobsmacked to read how many lefties want to secede from the Union (!!!!) -- start a new Civil War! -- so they can have a separate (liberal blue) nation of their own. It's like liberals have gotten on the clown bus to Crazy Town.

  199. @AACNY It isn't one election, Bush also had minority votes in both his campaigns and won. As far as SCOTUS goes, we now have a Supreme Court that represents the views of white, conservative voters only, who are a minority in this country, it represents the rich and the white trash at the same time. And progressives have an easy way to break that, SCOTUS being 9 judges is tradition, it isn't law, it isn't in the constitution, and if the Democrats take the Senate as well as the house, they could pack the court and the republicans could not do anything about it, because they barred the filibuster with judicial appointees. By the way, the redneck states have already broken the electoral college, the rules that require an elector to vote for the candidate they were pledged to broke the intent of the founders.

  200. I recall discussing the abolition of the Electoral College in high school 60 years ago. Since this now benefits a particular party, this is very unlikely to change. I have a more radical proposal for reform of the government structure. Since probably all congressional districts are gerrymandered to benefit whatever party is in power, I would abolish the House of Representatives. I would retain only the Senate with each senator casting votes proportional to the population of their state. I might even consider having the Senate elect the President. None of this would ever happen, of course. Americans cannot embrace change such as adopting the metric system or abolishing the costly paper dollar and the cent coin.

  201. There are a lot of "What Ifs" that we could all benefit from. My bakers dozen 1. What if guns were abolished 2. What if universal healthcare was mandatory 3. What if college tuition was cheap 4. What if social media platforms were regulated 5. What if defense budgets were lower and that for education, medical research and other basic sciences were higher 6. What if Fox News did not exist 7. What if our Middle East foreign policies were not dictated by lobby groups 8. What if campaign money for nominated candidates -for any elected office - came out of a public fund as opposed to lobbies 9. What if hate speech could not hide under the umbrella of the first amendment 10. What if we made childcare free for everybody 11. What if Hollywood could be held responsible for movies that glorify violence 12. What if we improved infrastructure in inner city schools 13. What if we upgraded our aging infrastructure - roads, bridges, Water delivery and Sanitation systems

  202. @Plato What if there were an infinite supply of goods and money?

  203. @Plato Basically, you want to repeal the First and Second Amendments. You want the Federal Bureau of censoring social media, Hollywood, newspapers and TV. When I read posts like yours, I'm most sympathetic to the arguments of Second Amendment activists. How could we protect our right to speak if people like you gained power?

  204. @Plato : 1. what about the 100 million American adults who own guns -- a huge percentage of the adult population! they clearly cherish their 2nd Amendment rights and enjoy hunting, collecting, target shooting. Why should THEY have what they love abolished? How would YOU feel if THEY got power and abolished books? rock music with dirty lyrics? porn? art they didn't like? 6. What if MSNBC were abolished? what if Rachel Maddow was put in jail? what if there was no Freedom of Speech? Oh whats that? You don't like that? you don't want the FREE SPEECH YOU LIKE to be censored or curtailed? Pot, meet kettle.

  205. American political theory is built on a mirage. Americans believe they are famous for spreading democracy. From Woodrow Wilson, we have posed as a leader in the global effort to support every person's equal representation in their governing. Nonsense. The Electoral College is just one obstacle we have in the way to real representation and the equal political power of all adult citizens. Until 1920, more than half the population was legally excluded from voting. Until 1965, many of the rest were excluded by Jim Crow oppression. From the Republic’s birth to today, the Senate gives disproportionate power to a handful of states—far beyond what their population sizes warrant. Today, in too many states, equal voting is gerrymandered out of existence and political parties that lose the overall vote maintain majority power. Then there’s money in politics. Mike Bloomberg looked pretty big when he was spending $500 Million in the presidential race. Thankfully, Elizabeth Warren exposed his flaws and the voters in the Super Tuesday states took note. But if he had not been carrying that political baggage, would we be looking at his likely nomination? Finally, we come to five unelected justices, put there by the Senate (see above), declaring in 2010 that money is speech. The result? Clearing a path for billionaires to move into the White House or make those of lesser wealth beholden to them. Billionaires should each have one vote and not the ability to buy the votes they want.

  206. Why is the Presidential election the only office in the country the only office which is not decided by a plurality of votes. All of Congress, State and Local government is whomever gets the most votes wins. Why should the most important elected official of our country not have the same rules?

  207. @Donald bialer Because the more power an officeholder has, the more beneficial it is for the selection of that officeholder to filter up through a representative system than to spring from the passions of the mob. This is why we also started out with state legislatures, not individual voters, choosing U.S. Senators. Going back to that wouldn't be such a bad idea either.

  208. The Electoral college meant something when there truly were "backwaters" in our Nation.Television,radio and the internet has long ago changed the equation and need for this 233 year old idea. Further our every four year Presidential election should be a voting holiday. The voting percentage would skyrocket along with serious campaigning in every state.

  209. I disagree that the electoral college s/b abolished, I think it serves a purpose. The trouble is, it’s too extreme. For example, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming could all be treated as 1 state with their 3 electoral votes, and still be over-represented. In any event, you’re never going to be able to get rid of it. What you CAN do though, with no change to the constitution, is eliminate the “winner take all” system. That’s entirely doable on a state-by-State basis, and would be much more fair.

  210. @Earl M I agree; the winner take all provision is not in the Constitution.

  211. The founding Fathers never envisioned massive Federal programs like Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and Social Security. Those that favor disproportional representation should consider getting rid of those programs and having each state pay its own way as it was when the Constitution was written.

  212. @Charles If you are arguing for the dissolution of the United States, I might actually agree. I'm not sure the United States is viable as a single nation anymore. Its system of government is also so flawed and archaic that the Constitution needs to be completely revised or replaced. And to do that, you probably would have to break up the nation because you won't ever get this divided country to agree on anything.

  213. @617to416 No. I'm just suggesting that, perhaps, each state should take care of their own social programs such as healthcare, welfare, and retirement if we are not going to be able to have fair input into that which we are paying for.

  214. I don't care what a bunch of old men hundreds of years thought about it. It doesn't matter they're all dead. The Constitution should be revised and updated because it's dangerously weak.

  215. As a practical matter, it will be many years before the Electoral College is abolished. Small states, Red and Blue, would not agree to reducing their power so much. Thus, it is hard to believe that Rhode Island or Delaware would go along with having only 1/3 the electoral clout they have now (small as that is). Given that 3/4 of the states must approve a constitutional agreement to do away with the Electoral College, that is a hill to steep to climb. The only practical hope would be the interstate compact to deliver states' electoral votes to the popular vote winner. But there is doubt about its constitutionality. Indeed, the Supreme Court will decide this year on whether a state may bind its electors at all.

  216. There are many countries that are parliamentary democracies, where the people have almost no say in who the ultimate leader. Angela Merkel, for example, lauded by some clueless folks as the most powerful woman in the world, has held power for an inordinate amount of time without anyone directly voting for her. So I see, the Electoral College is bad when it gives a result you don't like.

  217. @Joe Schmoe Parliamentary democracies are much better than the mess of a system that the American Founders created. Yes, we don't directly elect our Prime Ministers. Instead the party leadership plays the role that the American electoral college was actually supposed to play: vetting the candidates to choose the one most qualified to lead. Then the people vote for their preferred party and its leader. The party that wins has clear control of the government—and therefore can implement its policy without all the gridlock, inefficiency, and dysfunction that infects the US's divided government. Furthermore, the government in power is clearly completely responsible for the performance of the government. They can't blame a different branch or different party for their mistakes. This transparency makes them accountable to the people, who either re-elect them or reject them, keeping or replacing the entire government based on the government's performance. The US system is characterized by an elected monarch and a divided and dysfunctional people's assembly whose powers are ill-defined. In a parliamentary system, the majority that wins the people's assembly holds all legislative and executive power in a unified government that the people can then judge by its performance and keep or reject as they see fit. If America really wants to reform its democracy, don't stop with the electoral college. Convert to a parliamentary democracy. Your Founders erred in more ways than one.

  218. @Joe Schmoe Merkel was the "Kanzlerkandidat" aka candidate for chancelloer, nominated by the CDU (her party).. Accodingly, when you voted for the CDU, you voted for her, in that office. What is hard to understand about that? Everybody knew it was going to be her if you cast your vote for her party. How is that any different than knowing who is the candidate for the Republican Party, and then voting for that party?

  219. "Nebraska and Maine are the exceptions." This is breezed over, but should be the whole point of the article! Why are they the exceptions? Do they have another, different, better method we should know about?

  220. @Darnell Their electoral votes are based on congressional districts, not statewide winner take all. I think that's the most reasonable compromise, giving candidates from both parties a chance to win votes in states where they don't have a majority. But again, it only works if all states agree to it.

  221. This is our country - of the people, by the people, and for the people. IF we could ever get together, be politically active and take to the streets and protest, like we see other people doing around the world, we could change to a one-person-one-vote system for every elected position. If, together, United, we would simply refuse to participate in the system that exists, then we the people will bring about change. Our main problem seems to be that we are lazy, entitled, and definitely NOT united anymore. So maybe we just tank the idea of the “United” States and admit we really want to be more like Europe used to be: politically divided geographic regions that border each other. Then we don’t have to all agree on eliminating the electoral college because we eliminate the existing out-of-control federal government, the broken, failed system of no checks or balances our now diseased judicial system. Get rid of all of them and the messed-up system we can’t seem to change and clearly doesn’t work anymore. Each independent state could choose their own system and we could choose which state to live in by where we find affinity with the politics and people. It would be interesting to see how we would end up resettling. All I know is that over my lifetime I’ve watched our government and an astonishing number of my “fellow” Americans morph into something I am frightened of and don’t recognize. I’m exhausted and defeated. I don’t identify with being “American” anymore.

  222. I am much more annoyed that the "two major parties" choose who will become our president, and they do it with the cooperation of the major-corporate TV networks that disallow any "other-party" candidates. They also do it via the impossibility of any "other party" being able to get on all 50 state ballots. Then they make it impossible or very difficult for non-party-affiliated voters to have participation in primary elections, run by the two major parties. The voters of the USA are frustrated that both parties are owned by big-investments donors that expect a good ROI for direct contributions to both parties, and they have 40,000 lobbyists writing the laws they want their sold-out lawmakers to pass. This is not democracy. It's an oligarchy, as former president Jimmy Carter has pointed out. Currently the Corporate Democrats have decided on a half-witted Joe Biden for POTUS vs the Corporate Republican's con-man Reality TV host Donald Trump. Not much of a choice for voters.

  223. I'm getting really tired of these juvenile diatribes against the electoral collage. There is no way on God's green earth that it will ever be abolished, short of a Constitutional amendment. And that has the same chance of happening as the provierbial snowball's chance in h-e-double hockey sticks. There are too many small-population states that enjoy their outsized status, and frankly I think that's fine. The Founding Fathers knew that large-population states would overwhelm the smaller ones if there weren't some kind of safeguard. What I do disagree with is the winner take all part of the EC. That was never in the Constitution and is grossly unfair. The solution is simple: keep the Electoral Collage, but make it proportional. That way the smaller states still get a say, but since everyone's vote counts for more it's more likely that people will vote. And you don't need to change the Constitution to do it.

  224. @Liz This is true. How states choose to divide up their electors is not set forth in the constitution. States have broad authority in how to do so. The electoral college itself, is not an impediment to change.

  225. @Liz There is no good reason that my vote should count less than someone's else's. None. One person one vote.

  226. The problem with popular vote for President is that it encourages more politics to be national. This is backwards. Most governing does take place and should take place at the state and local level. The President and the federal government should handle issues like the Corona Virus(national emergencies), national defense, international agreements, national infrastructure like interstates, mediate state disputes, and ensuring that people’s rights are protected. State and local governments should be responsible for the day to day governing of people’s lives. If the Presidency is becoming authoritarian then some of the reason is that expectation is changing toward more federal government power and influence over governing. You can’t moderate politics through reducing state influence.

  227. The elaborate arguments that are presented to justify the farce that is the electoral college amaze me. We have a long campaign to select candidates, then to discover the will of the people in selecting the president, then throw it all out and send the loser to Washington. The members of the electoral college are not the collection of wise men who were supposed to act as circuit breakers (not the term the founders would have used) and reverse the actions of the "mob." The mob being us, the voters. They were intended to be the last resort of the establishment if they were in danger of losing power. And they don't even accomplish that. With the exception of the occasional faithless elector, they're a rubber stamp. Depending on the politics of the day, the EC can serve the interests of conservatives or liberals or radicals of one kind or another. There is no rhyme or reason to it. We might as well get the two major candidates together and flip a coin, thereby saving the expense and suspense of an election. We've had similar fights over property requirement and polI taxes and other anti-democratic efforts to frustrate the will of the people. I am quite sure that if Donald Trump had won the popular vote and Hillary Clinton had taken the oath of office, most of those arguing for the Electoral College would be on the other side. Donald Trump thought the EC was a bad idea until it put him in office. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is our best hope for democracy.

  228. Every argument I hear in defense of the EC boils down to the following (flawed) idea: that less-populated States would be subject to the dominance of more densely populated states. Here's why this argument is specious at best: 1) I never hear exactly how, CA would dominate ND. There are never details connected with this argument. Alternatively, why don't we hear Vermonters whine about the potential power of TX? 2) No one is forced to live anywhere in the U.S.. Why should your location dictate a different level of political power? I lived in 6 different states in my life. Most very conservative and one fairly liberal. Why should my vote have had different political power depending on where I lived? 3) The Presidency is a position that, by its nature, should represent all Americans equally. Think of the national election as one big "purple" state. 4) Each state has plenty of equalizing power in Congress. It's called the Senate. And if you don't think this is enough power, just look at the enormous power that Mitch McConnell has wielded for years now. The Senate, in conjunction with the EC has actually created a tyranny of the few. A partial fix would be to require the EC to be proportionalized. If a state has 10 electoral votes and one candidate gets 65% of the vote, then he/she gets 6.5 electoral votes.

  229. @mrfreeze6 Sure compare CA and ND - are you seriously arguing that their interests are the exact same? They share a common industrial base Coal/Oil versus Software/Entertainment and we know what those industries have in common. I can't see any bullying occurring there. You know that the Constitution was wrangled over a strong commitment to state rights? And that by popular votes you trample those embedded rights? And you know what you need to amend the constitution? You know that many countries all over the world - including Canada - have looked at a popular vote system over that past decade and they ALL have rejected it? But then again - what do they know - right?

  230. @SteveRR You know, there's no constitutional requirement that the electoral college be a winner-take-all system, which kind of negates the notion that the EC should outweigh or supersede the popular vote in states. The states could simply change the rules. Also, to make a case for the electoral college based on "industrial" bases is absurd. Here are the largest Coal/oil produces: TX, AL, CA, ND, NM, OK. Who's going to bully who? I live in Italy where my vote counts equally to that of a person from Rome or Milan. Italians find the U.S. system unfathomable. But again, what do they know?

  231. @mrfreeze6 We have all watched in amazement as Italy has elected buffoon after buffon [Silvio Berlusconi] due to the paralysis embedded in their electoral system - the Rosatellum bis. If you were going to look up ineffective electoral systems in the dictionary then it would be accompanied by an illustration of a 'boot' country. And just in passing - why has Italy had four major overhauls of its electoral system in the past few decades? You have actually perfectly made my argument for me - Italy is EXACTLY what happens with a first-past-the-post proportional system.

  232. A defining characteristic of a democracy is the idea of one person, one vote, i.e., everybody gets a vote and all votes count the same. That idea is totally lost in a country like America where a Wyoming vote is far more powerful than a California vote. The Framers were faced with the problem of cobbling a nation together from a disparate bunch of colonies or states. I figure they offered the small states equal voting power with the large states as an incentive to join the union. The electoral college will likely never be abolished since the small states would never choose to give up all that power and the Republicans would never win another presidential election.

  233. @Clark Landrum — Nah. The Republicans could continue to compete effectively. They would just have to change their politics, to attract a national majority—which is the point.

  234. What needs to be changed even more ate the primaries for President. Just as the election for President is held on one day (early elections results are still all calculated on election day or thereabouts), so too should be state primaries.

  235. @Stephen -- Or better yet, we should move to Ranked-Choice voting that would allow EVERYONE including "independents" not affiliated with either party to vote. Party affiliation should not be the number one deciding factor, filtering all election votes. If I want to re-election the governor of Florida, who is a Republican, I should not have to register as a Republican in order to help re-elect him. Especially, since I really like our district's US House Representative, who is a Democrat. With Ranked-choice voting, I would be able to vote for a Green Party candidate, but designate a second-choice that my vote would go to if my candidate was not the winner.

  236. A remedy now working its way through the states is the National Popular Vote Compact. So far 19 states, representing 70+% of the 270 electoral votes needed to elect a president, have enacted this legislation. This struggle must occur at the state level. (The idea, fully constitutional, is that the states' electors would be bound to vote for the candidate who wins the national popular vote count.) It might take more years to get enough states on board.... but well worth lobbying for. Of course, most of the red states will be an uphill struggle; but it took women more than a few generations to get suffrage also.

  237. There are a lot of great reasons to abolish the current system,none exist to keep it.Until the people rise up and demand the end of gerrymandering,three hours in line to vote in poor areas,electoral college ,things will only get worse, . Bernie Sanders talks about a revalution,I am not a Bernie voter but I will be willing to join one if for the third time in the past twenty years the person with the most votes loses.

  238. I was tangentially involved in the research for Judge Richard A. Posner's 2000 "Breaking the Deadlock" book about the 2000 presidential election. Already it was impossible to get a count for just Miami-Dade county, much less the entire country. Two takeaways are 1) the count must be broken into manageable bits and 2) there must be tie-breaking rules for "statistical ties" other than a partisan Supreme Court. The best solution may be to vote by congressional house districts, winner take all, with the newly elected House of Representatives as the tie breakers. This could be especially useful if the impending break up of the Democratic party leads to multiparty elections in the future.

  239. @Barry Dayton A much better solution is to make the winner be whoever gets the majority in the national popular vote. Once everybody is counted on an equal basis, it will not matter if a candidate won or loss one district in one state by a hundred votes. Even the "close" elections were not that close once everybody is counted. In Statistics, this principal is called the Law of Large Numbers.

  240. That the problem is so real, the impacts are so well documented, and a “solution” (eliminating winner take all rules in those states) is so easily reached, it begs the question why this hasn’t come to pass? Obviously, 10 states have vested interest in the status quo, both fiscally and emotionally. However, much like term limits, it will come when all we all realize that “traditions” like 2 terms as President are meaningless until codified (certainly we now know that not soliciting interference from a foreign government in an upcoming election is just a guideline, not codified law). Trusting the brilliance of George Washington would transfer to every other future President was folly, and despite the fact that FDR was well intentioned and won by huge margins, even the staunchest Democrat would have to see it as a sign of massive egotism to seek a third term. Disenfranchising so much of the electorate is one of the great failures of our current system. Time to change is immediately following this upcoming election, regardless of outcome.

  241. Let me point out that a Constitutional Amendment is NOT necessary to substitute the popular vote for the electoral college. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would require member states to commit to awarding their electoral votes to whomever wins the popular vote nationally, regardless of the results in the Electoral College. It would not take effect until the total electoral college vote of the member states were at least 270. This would insure that the winner of the popular vote would win the election. This far, states with 181 electoral college votes have joined the Compact. Bills are pending in enough states to get to 270. If your state hasn't joined, write your state representatives urging them to vote to do so.

  242. @Len Charlap The Compact could likely lead to scenarios where a member state awards its electoral votes to a candidate that finished second in that state. How do you feel about that disenfranchisement of the voters in that state?

  243. I don't care. If a majority of Americans voted for someone to be president, they should be president. It's that simple

  244. @Len Charlap: This idea can pass only during an election of a majority president; otherwise the whninig minority will block it. Seems like there's no time like now to try this. We're stuck with a despised incumbent who is far from ever getting a majority of votes, and the states needed to pass the proposed compact wouldn't be casting EC votes for him anyway, so it would be popular since it would increase the odds of the desired outcome.

  245. Change - no matter how timely or reasonable - is always resisted by those who would be losing something, usually power. So pull the thread on that concept and see where it leads.

  246. A parliamentary system would solve this problem, but that’s not going to happen either.

  247. Sorry but the Electoral College is not an outdated concept. In fact, in a world of social media and everyone insulating themselves in ‘social media groups,’ it’s more important than ever. The problem is how different states employ their electoral votes. The ‘all or none’ concept used by many states, like NY, is the problem. It is ridiculous that if one candidate gets one more popular vote than the other, ALL the states’ electoral votes go to that candidate. That’s the problem, not the Electoral College itself. The solution is obviously to simply divide the electoral votes based on the percentage of popular votes as it was designed to do.

  248. There are approximately 718 thousand residents per electoral vote from California. Wyoming has approximately 193 thousand residents per electoral vote. Definitely unfair to distort the representation of residents due to variations in state populations. U.S. presidential election system is relic from the 18th century when white male landowners who were able to travel by horse to town were allowed to vote.

  249. And whilst we are at it - the way Senators are elected leads to an even more distorted violation of the "one person, one vote" principle. 600 Thousand Wyomians pick 2 Senators whilst more than 40 Million Californians also pick 2. In other words, a vote in Wyoming is worth almost 100 times as much as one in California. I am not so sure if the Republicans are dead against abolishing the electoral vote system. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of about 3 Million. If the Trump organisation had seriously campaigned in California, New York or Michigan who knows how this would have turned out. What would be the process to change all this? Would it require the same procedure that is required for a change in constitution or a constitutional ammendment? If that's the case, we probaly won't see a change in our life times.

  250. I disagree. The electoral college handles the population asymmetry. It smooths out the impact of population extremes, while at the same time giving them a higher weight and this should be enough. Obama was able to win twice despite this perceived injustice. The Democrats should start campaigning more in the rural counties and convincing people of their ideas if they want to win.

  251. @John This is not a "perceived" injustice; it is quite real and unjust in spite of some candidates overcoming the odds. Some women are quite successful in business. So where's the need for Affirmative Action? This issue is not any different.

  252. @John : But, in reality, it has exaggerated the extremes.

  253. @Glenn Thomas Our current system does not just smooth out extremes in population but also extremes in views due to regional biases. This ensures that change is incremental and allows for most people to feel that their voice is heard and come on board.

  254. There are two problems with this: 1) It would require a constitutional amendment to enact. Given the makeup of state legislatures and the congress at the moment, we are more likely to get a constitutional amendment banning abortion than one abolishing the electoral college 2) It completely negates any political power of less populous states at the federal level. When California has twice as many residents as Wisconsin, Ohio, and Idaho combined, that leaves states like NY and CA with huge populations with all the control. Now you can make an argument that (2) is a GOOD thing, but when you have to rely on state legislatures or congressmen from sparse states to abolish the electoral college - why would any of these people vote to reduce the political powers of their own constituents? A much better plan would be to pass state level constitutional amendments that allocate electoral college votes on the basis of the popular vote in each state. No federal constitutional amendment would be required, and this would help and hurt both parties equally - Democrats in all-or-nothing states that are majority Republican would have their votes count, and the same would hold in majority Democratic-leaning states for Republican voters.

  255. @Ben A better argument than any: The Founders knew only by equal representation as opposed to strict majority rule would the Union survive.

  256. I am tired of articles that point out the problems with the electoral college. They are well known but it would require a constitutional amendment to get rid of it, and that is not going to happen. Therefore what should we be talking about. One change that is slightly more likely to happen would be to double the number of representatives. This would reduce the issue that each state gets 2 electors on top of what they get due to the number of representatives that they have. This would go a long way towards reducing the extra weight that the small states get. Regarding changing the way electors are given this is a state issue and could be changed by each state at any time. However one should be careful regarding what one asks for. If a state has gerrymandered their congressional districts and appoints electors based on who wins a district then a candidate could win a majority of the votes in a state but get a minority of the electros. To prevent this would also require a constitutional amendment, which as stated before isn’t going to happen.

  257. The twin travesties of unequal per-capita Senate representation and the Electoral College were demanded by a few of the 13 original states to institutionalize liberty to enslave. They should have been abolished at the conclusion of the Civil War. The US never does anything on a timely basis.

  258. @Steve Bolger I pretty much agree with your position, but the EC was put in place to prevent a "tyranny of the majority," where states with smaller populations would almost never receive due consideration for their concerns. But now we have the opposite. A minority can win over and over again by sidestepping the ballot box using the Supreme Court and the Electoral College. If the EC ever had a legitimate purpose, that purpose is long gone. Have you noticed these types of artifice have become Republicans' latest stratagem for gaining office?

  259. @Glenn Thomas My understanding is that the motivation for the EC was to take the election of the president out of the hands of the general public of all the states, and put it in the hands of a responsible elite, who would presumably be less subject to the wiles of a demagogue. The writers of the Constitution treasured the idea that the people had a voice, they were leery of the untamed expression of that voice, whether in large or small states.

  260. @Steve Bolger The current wave of "it was all meant to preserve slavery" claims is historically illiterate. I read the 1619 Project too. I thought it added a lot of important thoughts to our national dialogue. But its most pointed conclusions were aggressively wrong. Now: You please read some of the rebuttals of, it, starting with Gordon Wood, no one's idea of a right-winger.

  261. Abolishing the EC is an issue about which I’ve read and have strong opinion. However, I didn’t know about the National Popular Vote Compact and appreciate learning about it here.

  262. Given that the electoral college is not going away soon why do the political parties care who wins states in a primary election that will never vote for your party in the general election ? This year the Democratic Party should only count delegates for whoever wins in WI, MI, PA, NC, FL and CO. Counting delegates from the South makes no sense at all for Democrats and for starters the editorial writers and talking heads on cable news could start by acknowledging that certain fact.