Donald Trump was officially elected as the 45th President of the United States when the Electoral College met on Monday, despite having lost the popular vote to his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, by more than 2.9 million votes.
There’s actually a way in which the US can keep the Electoral College as the Constitution intended, while still awarding the presidency to the popular vote winner, according to The New York Times Editorial Board.
It’s called the National Popular Vote interstate compact.
Here’s how it works. Currently, the presidency is decided by 538 electors, who are allotted to states proportionate to the state’s population. Texas with it’s huge population, has 38 electors, while Wyoming has 3.
The electors — besides those in Nebraska and Maine, which split their Electoral College votes based on congressional districts — are bound to vote for the popular vote winner of the state they represent, no matter how small the actual margin is.
Much of the US’s population is concentrated in Democratic strongholds — on the coasts, and in large cities like Chicago and New York City. The Electoral College, the logic goes, forces presidential candidates to focus their attention on often overlooked states, like New Hampshire and Wisconsin, and theoretically gives small states an important say in who runs the government.
The first candidate who wins 270 electoral votes wins the presidency, even if they lose the popular vote. It’s a winner-take-all system.
However, according to The Times, the Constitution only goes as far as establishing the existence of the electors, but leaves it up to the states to tell them how to vote.
Eleven states, and Washington D.C., passed legislation to have their electors cast their vote for the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of the outcome of the vote in the electors’ individual states. This agreement — the National Popular Vote interstate compact — will take effect only once states representing a majority of Electoral College votes, that is, the magic number 270 sign on.
As of 2016, the compact represents 165 electoral votes — it’s 61% of the way there. When Obama won the Electoral College by a huge margin in 2012, Trump himself called the system a “disaster for democracy,” in a tweet.
The National Popular Vote compact is an “elegant solution” to the popular vote conundrum, according to The Times. It keeps the Electoral College in place, faithful to the Constitution, while awarding the presidency to the popular vote winner.
“A direct popular vote would treat all Americans equally, no matter where they live — including, by the way, Republicans in San Francisco and Democrats in Corpus Christi, whose votes are currently worthless,” The Times writes.
“It’s hard to understand why the loser of the popular vote should wind up running the country.”
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