Today the electoral college votes for President. In the past there have been ways Congress has sought to change or scrap the electoral college. Today, 538 presidential electors selected by voters on Nov. 8 will choose a president when the Electoral College votes in states across the country.
This year marks the fifth time in history the popular vote winner lost the presidency. The other elections were in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. Though Donald Trump won 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232, it may not be over yet. Several activist groups are demanding electors reject their state’s voters and cast a vote for someone other than Trump. More than 50 of the 232 Democratic electors, and one Republican elector, have even asked for a national security briefing on the potential Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails before casting a vote.
President Barack Obama opted against weighing in on what electors should do, but spoke during his Friday press conference more generally about the Electoral College. Obama said:
The Electoral College is a vestige of an earlier vision of how our federal government was going to work that put a lot of premium on states. It used to be that the Senate was not elected directly, it was just decided by state legislatures. It’s the same type of thinking that gives Wyoming two senators with about half a million people and California with 32 million get the same two. There are some structures in our political system that disadvantage Democrats. But the truth of the matter is, if we have a strong message, if we are speaking to the issues the American people care about, typically the popular vote and the Electoral College vote will align.
Christine Blackerby, co-curator of the “Amending America” exhibit at the National Archives Museum said “Congress has considered 850 separate proposals to amend the Constitution to change the way a president is elected” Here is a look at a few of those efforts.
The first proposed change to the Electoral College was the only successful reform, coming in response to a glitch exposed in the 1800 election. Presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson and his vice presidential running mate Aaron Burr got the same number of Electoral College votes, 73 each. The problem was, in those days, the second place finisher in a presidential race was the vice president. The House of Representatives voted 35 times before finally electing Jefferson president. Congress passed the amendment on Dec. 9, 1803, and it was ratified on June 15, 1804, putting the president and vice president on a ticket for electors to choose.
In 1846, a proposal was floated in Congress to replace the Electoral College with a lottery system. Under this proposal, each state would have its own election. The winners of each of those elections would then be chosen by lot in Washington. Balls with names of candidates would be placed in a bowl, similar to lottery drawings seen today on TV. The first name drawn would be president, the second name drawn would be the vice president, Blackerby explained. The proposal, House Joint Resolution 8, introduced on Jan. 13, 1846, never came to a vote.
The “Amending America” exhibit allows visitors to see the most popular person from each state based on Google searches, then entered into a random drawing, to see who could be president today if this system had been enacted. This would in effect be the same as the 1846 proposal. What do you think? Do you trust google? Isn’t this the same as taking the vote out of the hands of the people? I would love to hear your take on this.
Portions of this story are from an excerpt from Fred Lucas article. Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal.
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