United States Senator Barbara Boxer of California announced Tuesday plans to propose legislation that would abolish the Electoral College system.
The structure is nearly as old as the country itself. While there have been a few changes along the way, such as states barring electors from voting against the popular vote, it remains the system used to elect the President of the United States.
The President is elected by a group of appointed electors, not by the popular vote. While the electors typically vote in line with the popular vote they are not required to. Some states have laws that require the electors to cast their vote with the popular vote. For more information on what the electoral college is and how the system works – The University of California Davis has published an electoral college brief through its California History-Social Science Project.
Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote and is now president-elect. However, as of November 15, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads the popular vote by nearly 1 million votes, according to the Cook Political Report national popular vote tracker.
"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 statement. "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.”
Boxer calls the Electoral College system outdated and undemocratic that doesn’t reflect modern society.
California State University, Sacramento Political Science Professor Kim Nalder has been studying elections for more than a decade. Only a handful of times in American history has the Electoral College vote not matched the popular vote, twice in the past two decades, Nalder said.
“The founders came up with the concept of the electoral college because they were very wary of mass opinion,” Nalder said. “They were worried that the population could be swayed by a demagogue, by somebody who would be persuasive but maybe not good for the country. And so they wanted to set up a structure that would insulate the election of the president from the popular vote."
Abolishing the Electoral College system would require passage of such legislation through congress, then approval in 38 state legislatures. Since there is a majority of Republicans in control of legislatures at both the Federal and State levels, Nalder said it would require Republican support to move.
If the Electoral College were to move to a popular voting system, the American Presidential election would look completely different, Nalder said. Candidates would need to campaign for every single vote, which means they would need focus their efforts on the entire nation. That would mean candidates would need to raise much more to campaign.