US Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) [official website] introduced a constitutional amendment [text] Thursday that proposes eliminating the electoral college [government backgrounder] and allowing for direct election of the president and vice president. This proposal comes after Hillary Clinton [official profile] won the popular vote by at least 2.5 million [Time report], but lost the electoral college and presidency to Donald Trump [official profile]. Cohen further elaborated [press release]:
When the Founders established the electoral college, it was in an era of limited nationwide communication. It was premised on a theory that citizens would have a better chance of knowing about electors from their home states than about presidential candidates from out-of-state. The development of mass media and the internet, however, has made information about presidential candidates easily accessible to U.S. citizens across the country and around the world. Today, citizens have a far better chance of knowing about out-of-state presidential candidates than knowing about presidential electors from their home states. Most people don’t even know who their electors are.
In order for the constitutional amendment to succeed there would need to be two-thirds approval in both the House and Senate, and 38 of the 50 states would also need the approve the amendment.
JURIST Guest Columnist William Ross of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law said recently [JURIST op-ed] that although there are sound reasons for both its retention and abrogation, no change in the method by which Americans elect their president is likely. There have been many questions raised over the recent presidential election, not only involving the electoral college. A judge for Wisconsin’s Dane County Circuit Court in November denied an attempt [JURIST report] to have a recount of votes from the presidential election counted by hand. Also in November the Green Party filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania contesting the presidential election results tallied on November 8.