On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California introduced legislation that would abolish the Electoral College system, The Los Angeles Times reported. Boxer is in the final months of her last term in office. Californians last week elected Democrat Kamala Harris as her successor. Boxer’s bill calls for a Constitutional amendment that would do away with the Electoral College for presidential elections. The proposed legislation is seen as a tremendous long-shot given that even if Congress passed the law, it would still need to be ratified by three-quarters of the U.S. states within seven years of its passage — a considerable hurdle, to be sure.
However, in light of the popular vote outcome — Hillary Clinton’s lead over President-elect Donald Trump surpassed one million votes on Tuesday — Boxer sees this as an opportune time to call for a change to the system.
“In my lifetime, I have seen two elections where the winner of the general election did not win the popular vote,” Boxer, who supported Clinton during the race, said in a statement. “The Electoral College is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately.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 has long been a point of controversy. Following the 2012 presidential election outcome, Donald Trump derided it, saying on Twitter that the Electoral College is a “disaster for democracy.”
The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2012
Not surprisingly, he changed his tune on that position this week after the Electoral College delivered him an unexpected election win, hailing it as “genius.”
The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2016
Meanwhile, a petition on Change.org calling on Electoral College electors to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton when they convene on December 19 has seen significant support. As of Wednesday, the petition had amassed more than 4.3 million signatures. Women are the driving force behind the petition, according to numbers Change.org provided to Women in the World. Of those who signed the petition and identified their gender, 75.8 percent are women and 24.2 percent are male.
Throughout American history, only four candidates have won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College, according the to The Los Angeles Times. Prior to Clinton, the most recent case was when Al Gore won the popular vote in 2001, only to narrowly lose the Electoral College to George W. Bush. For Boxer, this is an important issue. She’s co-sponsored bills in the past aimed at dumping the Electoral College, but none of them were ever considered.
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— Women in the World (@WomenintheWorld) November 16, 2016