Following the 2016 election, many disaffected Democrats began a renewed push for the abolition of the Electoral College as a means of determining the winner of presidential races.
Even though the electoral vote worked out to their benefit in last November’s election, one House Democrat is now advancing a resolution that would amend the Constitution to establish a national popular vote system.
“Provide for the direct election”
According to the Washington Examiner, the proposal by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), H.J. Res. 14, was introduced on Monday with the support of eight other cosponsors in his party.
According to its title, the legislation would “abolish the Electoral College” and “provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President of the United States.”
While proponents of the electoral system point to its intended result of leveling the playing field between states with disparate populations, Cohen and his cohorts argue that the representative elections have become an “antiquated” aspect of American government.
According to defenders of the amendment, the current age of mass media allows voters in all corners of the nation to familiarize themselves with national candidates, whereas early on in the nation’s history Americans were able to put their trust in state-level electors who cast votes on their behalf.
Cohen further noted that the Constitution has already been amended multiple times on election-related procedures, including the 15th, 19th, and 25th amendments, which each expanded the number of Americans who were eligible to vote.
“Vestige of the 18th Century”
The 17th Amendment provided for the direct election of senators instead of allowing state legislators to choose, as had been originally intended in the Constitution.
Arguing that it is now appropriate to add another amendment, Cohen proposed language declaring that the “pair of candidates having the greatest number of votes for President and Vice President shall be elected.”
In a statement supporting the resolution, he wrote: “Americans expect and deserve the winner of the popular vote for any office to win and assume that office… More than a century ago, we amended our Constitution to provide for the direct election of U.S. Senators. It is past time to directly elect our President and Vice President.”
Cohen went on to make his argument that the Electoral College is a “vestige of the 18th Century when voters didn’t know their candidates,” later asserting that last week’s violent storming of U.S. Capitol building represented an attempt to manipulate the election based on the electoral vote tally.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the issue has become increasingly partisan throughout the 21st century, with a poll in 2018 revealing that three in four Democrats want to see the president elected by popular vote, compared to just 32% of Republicans.