Dem senator introduces bill to abolish Electoral College

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions Congress unlikely to reach deal on Trump border bill before break Chaos within the EPA exposes Americans to toxins like asbestos 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 TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE won the 2016 election despite losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden to debate for first time as front-runner Top Trump ally says potential Amash presidential bid could be problematic in Michigan Chaotic Trump transition leaks: Debates must tackle how Democrats will govern differently MORE. Former President George W. Bush also won the presidency in 2000 after losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreDowney: Why I returned stolen campaign material — a lesson for Donald Trump Trump campaign considering making a play for blue state Oregon: report What I saw at the last impeachment: Rules are for little people 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 BookerBiden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced Press: Democrats form circular firing squad 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 HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced MORE (D-Calif.) separately said she was "open" to the idea, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenAbigail Disney: 'We're creating a super-class' of rich people Is Big Tech biased? The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations 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.