Feeling increasingly frustrated with the United States Electoral College, a group of Democratic senators are planning to introduce a constitutional amendment this week that would abolish it. The proposed amendment, HuffPost is reporting, will be introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is running for president in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
Republicans have lost the popular vote in six of the United States’ last seven presidential elections. Although President George W. Bush won the popular vote when he was reelected in 2004 and defeated Democrat John Kerry, Democrats won the popular vote in the presidential elections of 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2016 (when Democrat Hillary Clinton lost to President Donald Trump despite receiving three million more votes).
At this point, Schatz’ proposal to abolish the Electoral College is merely symbolic. Ending the Electoral College would require a constitutional amendment, and amending the U.S. Constitution requires two-thirds approval in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or a constitutional convention. Democrats presently dominate the House, having enjoyed a net gain of 40 seats in the 2018 midterms—whereas Republicans increased their narrow majority in the Senate by two seats last year. And there is little support for ending the Electoral College in the GOP.
Critics of the Electoral College see it as anti-democracy, while its defenders view it as a sort of affirmative action program that prevents Rural America from being overwhelmed by densely populated urban centers such as New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
U.S. presidents who lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote include Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and Republican Benjamin Harrison in 1888. And although President George W. Bush won the popular vote in 2004, he lost it to Democrat Al Gore in 2000 but won that election anyway because he received more electoral votes.