East County News Service
November 16, 2016 (Washington D.C.) — For the fifth time in U.S. history, the president who won the popular vote has lost the presidency. Hillary Clinton received nearly a million more actual votes than Donald Trump, yet Trump is poised to be named president by the Electoral College after receiving more electoral college delegates.
The same thing happened back in 1876 when the Electoral College chose Rutherford B. Hayes by a one-vote margin and in 1888 when Benjamin Harrison was chosen despite losing the popular vote. In 2000, Al Gore received the most popular votes nationwide but George W. Bush won the most votes in the electoral college—and the presidency.
Now, California Senator Barbara Boxer wants to change that. So she’s introduced a bill that would eliminate the Electoral College and determine the winner of presidential elections by the popular vote. But the process isn’t easy. It would require passage by Congress and ratification of three-fourths of all states within seven years after Congressional approval.
But it could have a powerful ally. Donald Trump has in the past called the Electoral College a “disaster”, voicing support for “one person, one vote. In an interview after his election, he repeated his support for getting rid of the Electoral College, despite benefitting from the system this election.
Boxer, who is retiring, states, "In my lifetime, I have seen two elections where the winner of the general election did not win the popular vote. The Electoral College is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately. Every American should be guaranteed that their vote counts."
The Electoral College was established by our nation’s Founding Fathers as a way of assuring checks and balances should the people elect someone unfit to be President, though that has never happened before.
In theory, there is a possibility that when the Electoral College meets, its electors could choose not to elect Trump. The rules governing those votes vary from state to state, with some allowing electors to vote their conscience, while others have enacted faithless elector statutes that impose penalties on electors who fail to vote for the candidate who received the most electorates.
Since our nation’s founding, there have been fewer than 200 faithless electors—and most of those changed their votes after the candidate they pledged to vote for died after the election.
But even if the Electoral College were to choose Clinton over Trump, the Constitution would require that the election outcome then be determined by the House of Representatives in Congress, which is currently controlled by Republicans.
The House did decide one disputed election way back in 1824, handing the election to John Quincy Adams, even though Andrew Jackson had won both the popular vote and the Electoral College vote – but due to votes cast for other candidates, failed to win the minimum number of Electoral Colleges votes required to secure a victory.