Dem senator introduces bill to abolish Electoral College

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDemocratic senator and top Trump immigration official argue over asylum claims on Twitter Senate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility Senate Dem seeks answers from DHS on reports of pregnant asylum seekers sent back to Mexico 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE won the 2016 election despite losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces DHS cyber agency to prioritize election security, Chinese threats ABC chose a debate moderator who hates Trump MORE. Former President George W. Bush also won the presidency in 2000 after losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreOcasio-Cortez blasts Electoral College as a 'scam' 2020 Democrats release joint statement ahead of Trump's New Hampshire rally Deregulated energy markets made Texas a clean energy giant 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 BookerGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic 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 HarrisGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (D-Calif.) separately said she was "open" to the idea, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court 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.