Dem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived in sin' as way to perpetuate slavery

Dem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived in sin' as way to perpetuate slavery

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenPelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' The Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment MORE (D-Tenn.) said Tuesday the Electoral College was "conceived in sin" and originally designed to effectively perpetuate slavery. 

"The country is different than it was when the Constitution was drafted," Cohen said on CNN while issuing support for the push to move to a national popular vote for presidential elections.

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Cohen criticized the Electoral College's origins, saying, "When the Constitution was drafted, a lot of it had to do with slavery."

"The slave states wanted equal representation in the Senate because they wanted to keep slavery," he continued. "The slave states wanted to have an Electoral College to where the members that they had in Congress counted towards the vote of president, where the slaves counted as two-thirds, and in the popular vote they would count as zero. So the slaves states didn’t want a popular election because their slaves wouldn’t count towards voting and the slaves states would have less votes."

"This is all conceived in sin and in perpetuating slavery on the American people and on the African-American people directly," he added before invoking Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 2020 Dems put spotlight on disabilities issues MORE's (D-Mass.) argument for bypassing the Electoral College in favor of a national popular vote. 

Warren said at a CNN town hall in Mississippi on Monday that a national popular vote system would lead presidential candidates to spend more time in non-swing states. 

"If it’s a popular vote, people would come to Tennessee to get those votes, in Memphis and other places, and it would be a much more Democratic system," Cohen, who introduced an amendment to abolish the Electoral College in January, said. "The American people need to take control of their government that’s being lost to entities that have eliminated the middle class."

The Electoral College has faced scrutiny in the years since President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE defeated Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHarris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests MORE despite losing the popular vote.

Former President George W. Bush also won the Electoral College in 2000 after the disputed contest in Florida, even as he lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore.

Several Democratic-leaning states have entered a National Popular Vote Interstate Compact that seeks to bypass the Electoral College in favor of the national popular vote.  

The compact cannot go into effect until the coalition includes states that accumulate at least 270 electoral votes.

Warren became the first 2020 Democratic presidential contender to support leaving the Electoral College. 

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, another potential Democratic presidential candidate, has called for eliminating the Electoral College. Buttigieg, who launched a 2020 exploratory committee earlier this year, has said that the system is becoming "less and less democratic."