Dem senator introduces bill to abolish Electoral College

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Democratic senator on Trump's 'treason' comments about whistleblower: 'I worry about threats on his or her life' Overnight Energy: Lawmakers show irritation over withheld Interior documents | Republican offers bipartisan carbon tax bill | Scientists booted from EPA panel form new group MORE (D-Ore.) announced on Friday that he is introducing legislation to abolish the Electoral College as part of a package of election reform bills. 

"It’s time to end the undemocratic Electoral College, and to ensure a pathway to full voting representation for all American citizens, regardless of whether they live in Portland or Puerto Rico," Merkley said in a statement.  

The bill would propose a constitutional amendment to nix the Electoral College and elect the president by a direct popular vote.

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Merkley, as part of a "We the People" democracy blueprint released earlier this year, argued that the current system for electing a president is "profoundly unfair" and has resulted in two elections over the past two decades where candidates didn't win the popular vote but still won the White House.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China MORE won the 2016 election despite losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRonan Farrow exposes how the media protect the powerful Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' Comey says he has a 'fantasy' about deleting his Twitter account after end of Trump term MORE. Former President George W. Bush also won the presidency in 2000 after losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold Gore2020 general election debates announced Odds place Greta Thunberg as front-runner for this year's Nobel Peace Prize Joe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia MORE.

The idea of abolishing the Electoral College has gained traction among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, with several White House hopefuls suggesting they are open to reforms.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerO'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter The Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate MORE (D-N.J.) said during a CNN town hall that he believes that the person who wins the most votes should be the president, but added that "we have to win the next election under the rules that are there now."

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKlobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada MORE (D-Calif.) separately said she was "open" to the idea, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders on difference with Warren: she's a capitalist 'I'm not' Rubio hits Warren's 'crude' and 'vulgar' response to opposition to same-sex marriage Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren MORE (D-Mass.) urged supporters to sign a petition supporting "getting rid of the Electoral College."

Enacting a constitutional amendment would be an uphill battle, if not an impossible goal. The amendment would first need to win over two-thirds of both chambers of Congress, and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

But Merkley's package of bills comes as Democrats are floating several electoral and congressional reforms as part of the party's primary debate, including nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster in the Senate or expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court. 

Getting rid of the Electoral College is one of several ideas floated by Merkley as part of his package of bills. 

Merkley also wants to establish a "We the People" commission to develop a proposal to provide voting representation for D.C., Puerto Rico, and the territories of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Merkley is also introducing legislation that aims to prevent wait times longer than 30 minutes at polling places, establishes minimum requirements for early voting and would specify that an individual can only be removed from voter rolls if they move into another jurisdiction or if they die. 

“The idea of democracy is simple and obvious even to young kids on a playground – whoever gets the most votes should win. But way too often, that’s not how our system of government is working," Merkley added in his statement.