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Proposal To Abolish Electoral College Hits Senate This Week

A proposal to end the practice of selecting the president through the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote model will be submitted this week in the U.S. Senate, but it will face some difficult hurdles moving on from there.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) plans to submit the proposal on Tuesday, according to a report from the Daily Beast. The amendment has the backing of some pretty important Senate Democratic leaders, including Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), and Dianne Feinstein (D-California).

For many Americans, the amendment, which would eliminate the Electoral College and replace it with a popular vote model for selecting the president, is sorely needed. Two presidential elections in the past five cycles have produced outcomes where the people’s preferred choice did not technically “win” the presidency.

Americans by-and-large support ending the Electoral College for good, but the measure is likely to be “dead on arrival” within the Senate. An amendment to the Constitution requires two-thirds of both chambers of Congress to pass it, and with Republicans in control of the Senate, it’s highly unlikely Democrats would even be able to muster a simple majority of support for the proposal in that chamber.

After a proposed amendment passes Congress, it must also be passed by three-quarters of the states to become an official part of the Constitution, which further increases the unlikelihood that the measure would pass, despite its popularity.

Although the debate on ending the Electoral College has been reinvigorated in recent years, it is by no means a new argument. Efforts to abolish the non-democratic way of selecting the president have been around for more than 150 years, according to CQ Researcher, and many prominent American politicians have supported its removal.

“The electoral college is useless. The American people are qualified to elect their President by a direct vote, and I hope to see the day when they will,” Kentucky Sen. Alben Barkley said in 1937. Barkely would go on to become vice president of the United States under President Harry Truman.



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