College Dropouts

One of the latest popular parlor games being played by the media is the one that imagines what happens if the presidential election ends up in an Electoral College tie.

That’s obviously a pertinent question, but the bigger question is: What is it going to take to finally abolish the Electoral College and actually institute, you know, a democracy whereby the people elect the president? Wasn’t 2000 enough?

Some Illinois politicians think so. Retiring Peoria congressman Ray LaHood, a Republican, told a group of junior high school students last week that the Electoral College is “antiquated.”

In fact, LaHood’s opposition to the Electoral College dates at least as far back as 1997, when he told a House committee that “I believe the Electoral College is merely a relic of times past, running counter to the democratic process.”

And a week before the 2000 fiasco, LaHood joined with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, in jointly proposing amending the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College. (While the 2000 election was still unsettled, Hillary Clinton also called for abolishing the Electoral College.)

Likewise, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a close Obama associate, tells Chicago Life that he is “the lead sponsor of the effort to abolish the Electoral College”; his expanded thinking is contained in a recent Huffington Post piece.

According to, “Several attempts have been made to get rid of the Electoral College, the last significant effort coming in 1969, when the House of Representatives passed 338-70 an amendment abolishing the Electoral College. The amendment died when it only received 54 votes in the Senate, 13 short of the required two-thirds.”

You would have thought that the 2000 election would have sparked a larger movement against the EC, but Democrats likely wanted to avoid looking like sore losers and Republicans likely didn’t want to invalidate the legitimacy of their president.

With Obama and McCain both running as reformers, the time ought to be right to finally do away with this abomination.


I haven’t been able to determine if either candidate has taken a position on the Electoral College; anyone with any references on the matter is more than welcome to send me an e-mail or leave a comment.


Bonus links:

* From, 2004: “Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) has announced that she will introduce legislation to abolish the Electoral College system and provide for direct popular election of the President and Vice President when the Senate convenes for the 109th Congress in January.”

* From The Hill, 2008: “Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College on Friday, less than a week after the Democrats settled on how to handle delegates from Florida at their national convention.”

* “Let’s Abolish the Electoral College,” Salon, 2007

* “Why Don’t We Abolish The Electoral College,” Slate, 2000

* “The Indefensible Electoral College,” Mother Jones, 2004

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