Democrats must push electoral reform

On November 8, 2016, America voted. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Donald Trump won the Electoral College. Twice in modern history did the person with fewer votes win the election. Among Clinton supporters, some may be saying, “We’ve been screwed over…again.” Other supporters may be asking, “What the hell is the Electoral College?” In such a polarized country that would have seen its first female President, ever, that prospect was shut down by the Electoral College. So, what should the Democratic Party do?

Disgruntled Clinton supporter voices in opposition to the Electoral College

One obvious objective for the Democratic Party is for its members and the party itself to push for electoral reform, but not the abolition of the Electoral College. The Electoral College will exist for as long as America lives because there is no way that a constitutional amendment would ever clinch enough votes to pass in Congress and ratification among enough states, due to the fact that certain small states (particularly Republican small states) would not want to lose their disproportionately large voting power. However, the easier, yet tough, solution would be an agreement between states.

In the works is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which is a pending agreement between states to award all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. As of November 19, 2016, ten states and the District of Columbia have entered into this agreement, with a total 165 electoral votes. For this agreement to enter into effect, enough states combining for 105 electoral votes must join the agreement. In layman’s terms, the states that enter into this agreement must reach a combined 270 electoral votes, which is the minimum required to win the election.

So far, only the states that have voted reliably Democratic have entered into this agreement, which means the Republican Party may have no interest in supporting this agreement since it benefited from the Electoral College in 2000 and 2016. This means that the Democratic Party will need all “blue” states to enter this agreement.

The following states and the District of Columbia (3) have already entered into this agreement (number of electoral votes in parentheses): California (55), Hawaii (5), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (12).

The Democratic Party would have to pass legislation in the following solid “blue” states: Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Minnesota (10), New Mexico (5), Oregon (7). With these states the total would be bumped up to 197 electoral votes, still 73 votes shy. For three straight elections, Virginia has has voted “blue”, so the Democratic Party may try to pass this agreement there, adding 13 electoral votes and totaling 210.

If the Democratic Party can regain control over Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), and Wisconsin (10), the total would be 256 electoral votes, now 14 votes shy. The tricky part now is having swing states join this agreement, with the Democratic Party having the best odds in Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), and Maine (4), and if passed in those states, that would mean enough states accounting for 270 electoral votes have entered into this agreement, which would make the agreement come into effect and the national popular vote would finally decide the result of the election.

Even though listing the states that the Democratic Party needs to join the agreement is easy, actually accomplishing this will be an arduous task, which may take a decade, perhaps more, to accomplish. For now, we are stuck with the Electoral College being state-based rather than being based on the national popular vote. So, that means the Democratic Party needs to get straight to work in the push for electoral reform.


Jerry Cupat is a citizen journalist from San Diego, California, who is deeply interested in political affairs around the world.