Liberal senator from California wants to do away with the Electoral College

President George W. Bush speaks to reporters in the Pentagon after he and members of his national security team were briefed on the latest developments in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terror on Jan. 4, 2006. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps, and Chief of Staff to the President Andrew Card were briefed by senior commanders in person and via secure video teleconference. (DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, U.S. Navy)

A U.S. senator from California wants to do away with the Electoral College.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., wants to elect the president based on popular vote. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump picked up more Electoral votes.

The founders put the Electoral College in place because they feared a direct election. While many people believe the United States to be a democracy, the country is actually a republic.

“In my lifetime, I have seen two elections where the winner of the general election did not win the popular vote,” Boxer said in a news release. “When all the ballots are counted, Hillary Clinton will have won the popular vote by a margin that could exceed two million votes, and she is on track to have received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history except Barack Obama.

“This is the only office in the land where you can get more votes and still lose the presidency. The Electoral College is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately,” Boxer added. “Every American should be guaranteed that their vote counts.”

Boxer’s legislation would amend the Constitution of the United States and abolish the Electoral College. The amendment would take effect when ratified by three-fourths of the states within seven years after its passage in the U.S. Congress.

Electing the president: Popular vote and the Electoral College

This year’s election marks the fifth time in U.S. history a candidate has lost the popular vote, but won the election. It also happened in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000.

There are 538 electors. To win a presidential election, a candidate must receivd 270 electoral votes.

  • In 1824, Andrew Jackson won the popular vote and had the most electoral votes, but did not pick up enough votes in a four-way race to win the election outright. The 1824 election remains the only election to be decided by the House of Representatives, when on Feb. 9, 1825, the body elected John Quincy Adams the nation’s sixth president. For his part, Jackson called Adams’ win a “corrupt bargain.” Also, of note, the Senate on Feb. 8, 1837, elected Richard Johnson as vice president by a 33-16 vote.
  • In 1876, Democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote, but Republican Rutherford B. Hayes squeaked out a win in the Electoral Collece (winning by a 185-184 magrin). Hayes’ election was made possible, thanks to the Compromise of 1877 that ended Reconstruction following the Civil War.
  • In 1888, incumbent President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, picked up more votes (more than 90,500 in total) than Republican Benjamin Harrison. But Harrison won the Electoral College by a 233-168 margin.
  • In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won more than 540,000 more votes than Republican George W. Bush. But, Bush picked up 271 electoral votes to win the hotly contested election.
  • In 2016, Republican Donald J. Trump is expected to win 306 electoral votes, while Democrat Hillary Clinton is projected to win 232 electoral votes. As of now, Clinton won about 47.8 percent of the popular vote, while Trump garnered about 46.5 percent of the popular vote.

Faithless Electors

Meanwhile, some voters are calling on electors to vote for Clinton instead of Trump.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, so-called faithless electors have cast ballots in 1948, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1988, 2000 and 2004, but, so far, have never tilted the outcome of an election. While many states have laws in place that require an elector to cast a ballot according to the outcome in the state he or she represents, more than 20 states have no such law on the books.

In 1872, a total of 63 faithless electors cast ballots for four different non-candidates after their candidate, Horace Greeley, died before the electoral vote. Three of his electors voted for Greeley, but those votes were not counted by Congress.

According to the federal government, no faithless elector has been prosecuted for voting differently than pledged. The Electoral College votes on Dec. 19.

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