Skeptics may understandably ask: How can a third party possibly win the presidency when we have the Electoral College?
Many of us probably agree that the Electoral College needs to go. Under our current system of voting, some votes in the United States matter way more than others, and that is just not the American way. Let's put it this way: Mathematically, a candidate could win the presidency by winning as little as 23 percent of the popular vote, which is illogical. Also illogical, Republicans have been able to nominate six of nine Supreme Court Justices, even though Republican presidential candidates have only won the popular vote ONCE in the past three decades.
America is a representative democracy and, as such, all votes for the U.S. president should count equally. A few say that the Electoral College shouldn’t be messed with because this process was the fervent wish of the Founding Fathers. However, this is a mischaracterization of their intent. In truth, the Electoral College was born out of a compromise that James Madison struck at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when one group wanted Congress to elect the president and another group wanted to have direct elections. < Thank God they didn’t land on having Congress always elect the president! Can you imagine? >
Twenty-three decades later, it makes zero sense that the U.S. president, who is supposed to represent every single American, was ultimately chosen in 2020 by essentially the people who live in Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
How can we get rid of this albatross? A constitutional amendment is the cleanest way to abolish the Electoral College but is by far the most difficult to achieve. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, there are two ways to pass an amendment:
1) Receive two-thirds approval from both the House and Senate, plus ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures (which, currently, is 38 states).
2) If two-thirds of the state legislatures call for a Constitutional Convention.
Because neither of these will likely happen anytime soon, we should jump to Plan B and replace statewide winner-take-all laws with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), which would basically accomplish the same goal.
States with winner-take-all laws — which is every state except Maine and Nebraska — require the state to cast its electoral votes for the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state. The NPVIC is an agreement directly between the states that commits each state to cast its electoral votes for the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. As of the 2020 election, fifteen states plus Washington, D.C. had signed on to this pact, representing a total of 196 electoral votes.
Incidentally, another thing we desperately needed to do was clarify the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA), the legislation that regulates the Electoral College selection process. Congress finally revised the ECA in December 2022. Although it’s not a perfect fix, this was a critical step in making sure Congress understands its role in the process of counting electoral votes. The asinine things some members of Congress were saying before and on January 6, 2021 about their (and the vice president’s) outsized authority were downright embarrassing in their ignorance.
The United States Constitution is clear: States are the arbiters of their own elections for presidential electors. Congress and/or the vice president of the United States have ZERO authority to second-guess, change, or just decide not to count the slate of electors submitted to them by each state, or to hold up the electoral vote count to “investigate” alleged election fraud or election “irregularities.”
Congress and the vice president have ZERO authority to reject slates from states when no competing slates of electors exist. The only time Congress can object to Electoral College votes is if the appointment of the electors was not “lawfully certified,” or the votes were not “regularly given.” This is an extremely high — almost impossible to clear — bar because, in the end, majorities in both chambers must agree with the objection. As a result, objections to the electoral count vote are purely political theatre, like they were on January 6, 2021.