WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) vowed last week to spend the new year and new Congress pushing for a “one person, one vote” scrapping of the electoral college.
Durbin acknowledges this won’t come easily with a Republican House, Senate and White House, so he’s hoping a state-by-state workaround does the trick.
By the time the last votes in the presidential election were counted this month, Hillary Clinton had 65,844,610, nearly as many as President Obama received in 2012, compared to Donald Trump’s 62,979,636, making the final gap 2,864,974 votes. Other candidates received 7,804,213 votes.
The final electoral college vote was 304 for Trump and 227 for Clinton after seven defections.
In an email sent to supporters Monday, Clinton said that “while we didn’t achieve the outcome we sought, I’m proud of the vision and values we fought for and the nearly 66 million people who voted for them.”
She called it “our responsibility to keep doing our part to build a better, stronger, and fairer future for our country and the world.”
Last Tuesday, Durbin retweeted Trump from Nov. 6, 2012, when the president-elect said, “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”
“I agree with our President-elect – it’s time to retire this electoral relic,” the senator said.
Durbin is hoping to get more states on board with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which needs enough participating states to equal 270 electoral votes to go into effect. It works around the electoral college by using the state’s right to select electors however they choose.
Illinois, California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington have signed on to the compact, representing 165 electoral votes.
“Twice in recent memory, a majority of American voters cast their vote for the losing presidential candidate. This is certainly not what the Founders intended. It’s time to retire this 18th century invention that disenfranchises millions of Americans,” Durbin said in a statement Wednesday. “The American people deserve to choose all of their leaders, and I will continue to support efforts to empower voters.”
“We face an uphill battle in Congress, but states have the power to act now by adopting the Compact and committing their electors to the candidate chosen by the voters.”
Amending the Constitution to scrap the electoral college would require the support of three-quarters of state legislatures and two-thirds of the House and Senate.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact “would be an end run around the electoral college as opposed to abolishing it,” Pepperdine University law professor Derek Muller told PolitiFact. “There are still 538 electors who are still going to meet late December — the electoral college still exists — but it would be operating in a very different way.”
Durbin noted on Twitter that a week before the 2000 election, he introduced “a bipartisan bill to amend the Constitution & create a system of direct election for presidents.”
“A relic from a shameful period in our nation’s history, the Electoral College allows some votes to carry greater weight than others,” the senator tweeted. “You’d say that is fundamentally unfair, that we live in a nation that’s 1 person, 1 vote – but that’s exactly what the Electoral College does.”