Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren Calls For An End To Electoral College

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Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren Calls For An End To Electoral College

Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren

Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren

Photographer: Mario Tama

Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren

Photographer: Mario Tama

Photographer: Mario Tama

Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren

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Democratic Senator (and Presidential Candidate) Elizabeth Warren called earlier this week for an end to the electoral college system, and a national direct voting system, which would use the popular vote, in its stead. This debate has been going for years, with more and more Democrats supporting the idea of abolishing it in recent years after Republicans George W. Bush and Donald Trump won the presidency despite failing to win the national popular vote in 2000 and 2016, respectively.

The electoral college itself is a convoluted but important system consisting of 538 individuals called electors. Each state receives one for each of their senators, and an additional elector for every member in the House of Representatives, meaning the minimum amount of votes a state can have is 3 (this is the number Washington D.C. has (who, for the purposes of the electoral college is counted as a state). These electors are are chosen by each state’s political party, and then indirectly voted on, on the day of the general election (i.e. if a Democrat wins a state’s popular vote, the slate of electors chosen by the Democrats in that state are elected). In most–but not all– cases, the winning candidate for that state will receive the entirety of that state’s electoral votes. However, there is no federal level edict that forces electors to vote for their candidate, although most states have their own rules regarding this. After the election itself, the electors meet in their respective state capitals to cast their votes, but since they almost always vote for their party’s candidate, the race is usually called on election day once one candidate has garnered 270 electors, or just over half of the college.

Much of the debate around the electoral college centers around its effects, particular on the swing states, or states that don’t consistently vote one party. Elizabeth made her calls to end it in Mississippi, a state that rarely receives attention from candidates due to its tendency to vote Republican and relatively low number of electoral college votes. In fact, during the 2016 election, over two-thirds of the candidate’s campaign events were held in the same six states: Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan.

While the purpose original electoral college was to maintain a careful balance by representing smaller, less populated states without giving them too much power, Warren and other opponents argue that it is unfair and not truly representative of the American people. However, as it would require a Constitutional Amendment to abolish, it seems unlikely that it will go anywhere anytime soon.