BY BYRON TAU
A number of Capitol Hill Democrats have revived proposals to reform or abolish the Electoral College, in reaction to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s popular vote lead of more than 2.6 million over Republican President-elect Donald Trump.
Several House Democrats led by longtime Michigan Rep. John Conyers held a panel on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss options for eliminating the Electoral College and replacing it with a system where a national popular vote elects the president.
Mrs. Clinton’s supporters have decried the outcome of the election, which saw her win more votes across the country but lose narrowly in a trio of Rust Belt swing states, handing Mr. Trump the presidency under the rules established in the U.S. Constitution. The result of the 2016 election is the second time in recent memory that a Democrat lost the White House despite winning the popular vote, after Al Gore was defeated in 2000 narrowly in the swing state of Florida.
A number of electors are also pushing a last-ditch effort to deny Mr. Trump the presidency, including one Texas elector who wrote in a New York Times opinion piece this week that he would not vote for Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump has boasted on Twitter that he would have won the popular vote as well if he had campaigned in larger states under a popular vote system. He also made a baseless accusation that several million illegal immigrants voted in the election. No evidence exists to support that statement.
The plan with the most support to reform the election college at the panel was the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a proposal first developed in 2001 that would give the national popular vote winner the majority of electoral college votes through an agreement between the states.
If enough states representing 270 electoral votes pledge to give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote, the U.S. would have a de facto popular vote system without the need for a constitutional amendment.
“Recent elections and public sentiment have made it clear that there are serious problems with the present system for electing our president and vice president,” Mr. Conyers said.
So far, the popular vote compact has been passed in 11 states that total 165 electoral votes. Winning the presidency requires 270 electoral votes. The compact does not come into effect until enough states have joined the agreement.
“This is the way that major institutional political changes have happened in our country: The states do it first,” said Jamie Raskin, who as a Maryland state legislator sponsored and helped pass the first national popular vote bill. Mr. Raskin will be sworn into the U.S. Congress in January after winning a seat in November.
Separately on Tuesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich urged members of the Electoral College not to cast votes for him when the body convenes later this month saying that “the election is over” after several members of the body suggested rallying around him to try to deny the election to Mr. Trump
“I am not a candidate for president and ask that electors not vote for me when they gather later this month. Our country had an election and Donald Trump won. The country is divided and there are certainly raw emotions on both sides stemming from the election,” Mr. Kasich said in a statement through an aide. “But this approach, as well meaning as it is, will only serve to further divid our nation when unity is what we need now.”