As Trump, Biden hammer at swing states, advocates work to dismantle Electoral College

DENVER — As the presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden focuses increasingly on a few swing states that could determine the winner, millions of Americans are asking why their votes are essentially being taken for granted.

Why does the electoral vote matter more than the popular vote?



Now, a long-running effort to make the nation’s presidential election a “one person, one vote” system is gaining favor among partisan Democrats still angry that Trump won the 2016 presidency despite losing the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes.

Colorado is the latest state to consider adopting the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which seeks to essentially abolish the Electoral College without going through the near-impossible task of amending the U.S. Constitution. Coloradans are voting on the measure now, and polls show support is evenly split.

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The idea of abolishing the Electoral College has been around for decades, but the current proposal became more popular after Al Gore lost the 2000 election. It hinges on states agreeing to dedicate their electoral votes to whoever wins the overall popular vote for president, rather than dedicating their votes to the candidate who won their individual state.

a small boat in a large room: Alabama Electoral College Delegates vote for Donald Trump inside the Alabama Capitol building on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, in Montgomery, Alabama.

© Albert Cesare, AP
Alabama Electoral College Delegates vote for Donald Trump inside the Alabama Capitol building on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Unlike most elections in the U.S., the presidency is decided not directly by voters, but by members of the Electoral College, who are assigned based on the results of the popular vote in each state.

If approved by voters, Colorado would join 14 states and Washington, D.C., as members of the compact, which takes effect once states with a total 270 electoral votes sign on. Colorado’s nine electoral votes would take the current total to 196.

Supporters say the measure would force candidates to campaign in states that today are often taken for granted because they vote so reliably Democrat or Republican that they can be safely ignored.

The proposal received new attention after the U.S. Supreme Court in July ruled that Electoral College electors in 32 states are legally obligated to cast their vote for the winner of their state’s vote, rather than selecting someone else.

Clinton’s 2016 loss emboldened Electoral College critics

While the plan’s longtime backers have pushed it in large part on a philosophical basis, some frustrated Democrats have hopped aboard in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the 2000 and 2016 elections, where Republicans George W. Bush and Trump lost the popular vote but still claimed the presidency.

Many of the former 2020 Democratic presidential candidates generally supported either abolishing the Electoral College entirely or just using the compact to make it obsolete. Biden, however, has said he opposes changing the current system.

“The 2016 election was a good reminder of our democracy and what we need to do protect

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