WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee thinks it’s time to do away with the Electoral College.
The Memphis Democrat filed a constitutional amendment Thursday that calls for eliminating the electoral college and allowing for direct election of the president and vice president.
The congressman’s amendment comes as Democrat Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote in last month’s presidential election topped 2.5 million. Clinton lost the electoral college — and the presidency — to Republican Donald Trump.
“For the second time in recent memory, and for the fifth time in our history, we have a president-elect, who lost the popular vote,” said Cohen, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
“The Electoral College is an antiquated system that was established to prevent citizens from directly electing our nation’s president, yet that notion is antithetical to our understanding of democracy,” Cohen said. “In our country, ‘We the People’ are supposed to determine who represents us in elective office.”
The legislation is unlikely to gain any traction in the Republican-controlled Congress. It would need two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate and would then have to be ratified by 38 of the 50 states.
Cohen noted that the Founding Fathers established the electoral college in an era of limited communication. The college was premised on the theory that citizens would have a better chance of knowing about electors from their home states than about presidential candidates from out-of-state.
“The development of mass media and the Internet, however, has made information about presidential candidates easily accessible to U.S. citizens across the country and around the world,” Cohen said. “Today, citizens have a far better chance of knowing about out-of-state presidential candidates than knowing about presidential electors from their home states. Most people don’t even know who their electors are.”
“It is time for us to fix the anachronistic process of the electoral college and make our Constitution better reflect the ‘more perfect Union’ to which it aspires,” Cohen said.
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