A Republican presidential candidate has won the popular vote just once in the last three decades — but the party has ended up winning the White House three times. Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to put a stop to that.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate announced at a CNN town hall on Monday that she wants to abolish the Electoral College, a process that decides elections through 538 electoral votes doled out to each state based on population — rather than a true “one person, one vote” methodology. Every state carries an electoral vote for each of its House and Senate seats in Congress. That means a handful of populous swing states — like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — usually decide elections.
The system has drawn criticism for allowing Donald Trump to become president in 2016 even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. In 2000, the same happened to Al Gore, who sued over a recount of the final electoral votes, which belonged to Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ultimately ruled in George W. Bush’s favor.
“Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College,” Warren said, which triggered enormous applause at the town hall.
Trump, however, appears split on the issue.
Warren held the event in Mississippi, where she noted that Democratic presidential candidates almost never campaign because the state reliably votes Republican and isn’t a battleground for Electoral College votes.
“I believe we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and makes sure that vote gets counted,” Warren said. “We need to put some federal muscle behind that, and we need to repeal every one of the voter suppression laws that is out there.”
States have already started to take matters into their own hands. Last Friday, Colorado became the 12th state along with Washington, D.C., to join a pact to allocate all of its electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote — though the pact will only take effect if enough states join that the electoral college votes they represent total at least 270. (Right now, the number stands at 181.)
As one of many Democratic 2020 presidential candidates, Warren has attempted to set herself apart by pushing bold, fleshed-out policy ideas, like breaking up the biggest tech companies and implementing a yearly wealth tax on America’s uber-rich. She’s the first candidate to explicitly call for the elimination of the Electoral College, though Bernie Sanders previously said the body should “change.”
Warren also said a constitutional amendment should deal with voter suppression in the United States, which disproportionately affects low-income communities of color, and that she would create a group to study the implementation of reparations for the descendants of slaves.
Cover image: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a campaign house party, Friday, March 15, 2019, in Salem, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)