News & Politics

Robert Reich: We Can't Abolish the Electoral College, but We Can Make It Irrelevant

A new interstate compact would guarantee the U.S. never elects another Bush or Trump.

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We must make sure our democracy doesn’t ever again elect a candidate who loses the popular vote. That means making the Electoral College irrelevant.

Here’s how: As you probably know, the Constitution assigns each state a number of electors based on the state’s population. The total number of electors is 538, so any candidate who gets 270 of those Electoral College votes becomes president. 

Article II of the Constitution says states can award their electors any way they want. So all that’s needed in order to make the Electoral College irrelevant is for states with a total of at least 270 electors to agree to award all their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote. 

If they do that, then automatically the winner of the popular vote gets the 270 electoral college votes he or she needs to become president.   

Already 10 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to do this – awarding all their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote, as soon as the 270 elector goal is met. Together, these states total 165 electoral votes. 

So all we need now is some additional states with 105 electors to pass the same law, agreeing to reward all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote – and it’s done. We’ll never again elect a president who loses the popular vote. 

The effort is known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If your state hasn’t yet joined on, make sure it does. 

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Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Reich's documentary, "Saving Capitalism," is streaming on Netflix. His latest book, "The Common Good," is available in bookstores now.