Dem senator introduces bill to abolish Electoral College

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates More than 30 Senate Dems ask Trump to reconsider Central American aid cuts Long-shot goal of nixing Electoral College picks up steam 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 TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE won the 2016 election despite losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Ex-FBI official: 'Links and coordination' with Russia happen everyday Ex-FBI agent: Americans should be 'disgusted' by Russian interference in Mueller report MORE. Former President George W. Bush also won the presidency in 2000 after losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreLobbying world 2020 Dems audition for Al Sharpton's support Long-shot goal of nixing Electoral College picks up steam 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 BookerButtigieg says he wouldn't be opposed to having Phish play at his inauguration Sanders announces first endorsements in South Carolina Buttigieg to fundraise in DC with major Obama, Clinton bundlers next month: report 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 HarrisFive former Obama ambassadors back Buttigieg Harris: Integrity of US justice system 'took a real blow' with Barr's actions Sanders announces first endorsements in South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.) separately said she was "open" to the idea, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Warren spends big on staff in high-stakes 2020 gamble On The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost 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.