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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What likely scenarios are imaginable leading to a Constitutional amendment in the US eliminating the Electoral College system and instituting popular election of the President?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25561 points ) October 17th, 2012

Amending the US Constitution is a difficult, weighty procedure.

Article Five of the Constitution addresses amending the highest law document in the US. The simplest way to amend the Constitution and the only way that’s been used to date is to pass the amendment by ⅔ vote in both houses of Congress and then obtaining passage in ¾ of legislatures of the various states. (A more detailed explanation can be read here)

In my opinion, the Electoral College is an eighteenth century noose around the US’s neck, and it should be eliminated. Three times, it has led to the candidate who won the popular vote being denied the Presidency. Most will remember that happening in the election of 2000.

What might be the impetus for successfully amending the Constitution in this matter?

If you wish to discuss whether the Electoral College should be eliminated at all, please, ask a separate question.

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13 Answers

PhiNotPi's avatar

It will probably require that the members of the electoral college vote for someone who did not win their state, and for that to affect the election results. So far, the overall outcome of the election has never been changed by the actions of the electors themselves.

marinelife's avatar

I can’t imagine one. I don’t see an overriding reason for the change.

josie's avatar

There are no likely scenarios.

zenvelo's avatar

I think it would take something similar to 2000, but without the Supreme Court. The winner would pick up just enough electoral votes and by just winning the certain states to win the office, but dramatically less in the vote count nationally.

That would be 270 electoral votes by a small margin (48.10% to 48.09%, the rest to others), and the other 268 votes by a large (say, 56% to less than 44%).

That is a real possibility with the right mix of a third party candidate.

The other part of it would be the “loser’s” party dominating Congress and the legislatures. That would motivate the passage of an amendment.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I think @zenvelo has hit on something there. The last part of your post is a possibility. If somehow Romney wins the popular vote this time around but loses in the Electoral College while the Republicans maintain control of at least the House, you can bet there will be cries for an amendment.

wundayatta's avatar

It would take a civil war. The little states and the rural states would never give up their power unless forced to. It’s not going to happen—not while this nation remains intact.

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe once the population shifts some more. If those (us) yankees keep moving south for the warm weather more of the smaller states might come over to the side of letting go of the electoral college when it is proposed again.

Even people in my “group” Jewish American, for now the electoral colege helps us, but as we move more and more around the country, popular vote would be better.

I also agree with @zenvelo‘s last point especially as a possibilith. It would need to be the moon and the stars aligning perfectly, it might even cause the earth to lose some gravity for a few minutes, or severe weather, and capturing the moment to push through getting rid of the electoral vote.

If it could be changed by order of the Supreme Court it might be easier, but, I don’t think that is a possibility, right?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Amending the Constitution can only be done one of two ways:

two-thirds of both houses of the United States Congress ; or
by a national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds of the states.
To become part of the Constitution, amendments must then be ratified either by approval of :
the legislatures of three-fourths of the states ; or
state ratifying conventions held in three-fourths of the states.

The Supreme Court has nothing to do with the process.

JLeslie's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake That’s what I figured. It didn’t make sense tp me thqt the Supreme Court would be able to change the constitution, since it’s job is to interpret the constitution.

jerv's avatar

As amending the Constitution requires Congressional action, I don’t see it happening. Period.

Also note that going strictly by popular vote would actually make parts of the problem worse. Why try to woo all Washintgtonians when you only need Seattle? Why care about the Northeast (except for NYC) or Midwest at all?

ETpro's avatar

It’s possible that a President could be elected with just 22% of the popular vote. That, or anything close to it would definitely tip the scale. Till then, both candidates will continue to actually campaign for the Presidency of Ohio.

ragingloli's avatar

Not going to happen. Not with the current level of unbridled nationalism. Any attempt to do so would be seen as an “anti-american plot to destroy the constitution”.

Brian1946's avatar

I’m not really qualified to answer, because I didn’t even graduate from electoral high school. ;-p

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