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Abolishing the Electoral College is officially a campaign-trail talking point.
Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, the moderate Democrat who failed to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in a highly publicized Texas Senate race last fall, is the latest to champion the cause.
“Yes, let’s abolish the Electoral College,” O’Rourke said Monday at the We The People summit, part of a series of rallies billed as the official launch of his 2020 campaign.
"This is one of those bad compromises we made at Day One in this country. If we got rid of the Electoral College, we get a little bit closer to one person, one vote in the United States."
A GOP presidential candidate has won the popular vote just once in the last three decades, but Republicans have won the White House three times. The Electoral College, which decides the presidential election through 538 electoral votes doled out to each state based on population. For each House and Senate seat a state has, it gets one electoral vote. This affords a handful of big swing states — like Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin — a large amount of power in federal elections.
O’Rourke joins Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another 2020 candidate, who said last month at a CNN town hall that she wants to do away with the Electoral College. Pete Buttigieg, the Indiana city mayor who’s waging a surprisingly successful bid for the White House despite being relatively unknown, also supports eliminating the Electoral College. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is reportedly co-sponsoring a proposed constitutional amendment this week that would eliminate the body.
President Donald Trump now sits in the Oval Office thanks to the Electoral College. He lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. Before the election, Trump called the Electoral College a “disaster for democracy,” but he changed his mind a few days after claiming victory in the 2016 election and called it “genius.”
States dissatisfied with the Electoral College have already begun to form a coalition that seeks to give their votes to the popular-vote winner. Twelve states along with Washington, D.C., have a pact to do so, though it would take effect only if enough states join such that the Electoral College votes they represent total at least 270.
Cover image: Beto O'Rourke, former representative from Texas and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, center, greets attendees at a campaign stop in Houston, on Saturday, March 30, 2019. (Photo: Scott Dalton/Bloomberg via Getty Images)