Maybe it was an April Fool’s Day joke, because that would be the kindest explanation for presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) tweet on Monday claiming we need to “abolish the Electoral College” in order to “restore” the principle of “one person, one vote.”
She put out the tweet and included a link to a Daily Beast article about Democrat senators introducing a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College (because their supporters live in big, populous cities and a popular vote will ensure they’re elected).
“Our democracy is built on the principle of one person, one vote. It can’t function until we restore that principle. It’s time to abolish the Electoral College,” Gillibrand tweeted.
Our democracy is built on the principle of one person, one vote. It can't function until we restore that principle. It's time to abolish the Electoral College. https://t.co/TACwKfAZBN
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 1, 2019
The problem with the tweet, as Mark Hemingway and others pointed out, is that there is no “principle” to “restore” by eliminating the Electoral College. It’s in the constitution. It is a principle on which our “democracy” (constitutional republic) was built.
Restore what principle, exactly? The Electoral College was in the Constitution. The founders were quite clear and intentional about putting safeguards between governance and direct democracy. If we want to restore principles here, abolish the 17th Amendment. https://t.co/xsNS2yM4CF
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) April 2, 2019
The Electoral College is described in Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
In 1804, the states ratified the Twelfth Amendment, which supersedes the paragraph after the one quoted above. Originally, the person with the most electoral votes would be president, and the person with the second highest would be vice-president.
The Twelfth Amendment changed that by making president and vice-president two separate elections.
The national popular vote was never an American principle, or at least not the way Democrats want it to be now. The Electoral College results from a popular vote – in each state and the District of Columbia. It is 51 separate popular votes, although two states award proportional electoral votes.
Democrats don’t like the way elections are currently done because their party lost in 2016 and 2000 due to electoral votes when they won the popular vote. So, naturally, because the system didn’t work for them, they want to abolish it.
Republicans run using the Electoral College. Then-candidate Donald Trump visited states he thought he could win to increase his electoral votes. Hillary Clinton visited some states she knew she wouldn’t win in order to increase her vote totals so she would not only be the first female president, but also the president with the most votes ever.
This strategy, of course, did not work out in her favor. She ignored states she assumed would give her their electoral votes (like Wisconsin), assuming the Electoral College was a lock for her. She was wrong.
Now Democrats are upset that their strategy to win the election didn’t work, and they think that because Clinton won the national popular votes, that a national popular vote would result in total Democrat control.
Republicans don’t run on the national popular vote. If they did, maybe they would win it. It’s a chance Democrats seem willing to take.