The United States has used the Electoral College since the 18th century to decide presidential elections. The college has a total of 538 individual electors drawn from 50 US states and the District of Columbia. These 538 votes determine who wins the presidency as opposed to a popular vote. Every state except Maine and Nebraska have a “winner takes it all system.” In essence, a candidate who gets more than 50% of the vote in these states gets all the Electoral College votes. A presidential candidate will need at least 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.
However, over the last few years, the entire electoral system has come under sharp scrutiny. The scrutiny has grown more intense in the recent month after President Trump was elected into office despite losing the popular vote. The same was also the case for former president George W. Bush. Proponents of the Electoral College have always noted that the system helps to create a political balance. It ensures that politicians don’t ignore smaller states in favor of larger ones. This ensures that all states and all people across the country are represented in national politics.
Opponents of the system have, however, argued that the Electoral College has led to many un-democratic outcomes. They believe that a president should represent the majority of the population and as such, only a candidate who wins the popular vote should get into office. Calls to scrap the Electoral College have grown louder. In fact, a growing number of Democratic Presidential candidates have actually voiced their support on the matter. We have also seen a number of polls indicating that a majority of Americans favor the abolishment of the system.
Despite this, changing the constitution in order to achieve this is highly unlikely. But a few states are actually taking their own steps to try to bypass the college system. Since 2007, a total of 14 states and the District of Columbia have joined hands in pledging to give all their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationally. The 14 states that are part of this group hold a total of 189 electoral votes. This could be hugely decisive in determining future presidents in the US.
However, there are still no legal changes to make that happen. According to these 14 states, the hope is to attract enough states into the group before any legal reforms are proposed. In fact, the target is to accumulate at least 270 electoral votes within the group before moving with any far-reaching legal changes.
The 14 states that have already joined this pact include New Mexico with 5 electoral votes, Colorado with 9 electoral votes, Delaware with 3 electoral votes, California with 55 electoral votes, Massachusetts with 11 electoral votes, Illinois with 20 electoral votes, Hawaii with four electoral votes, Connecticut with seven electoral votes, Rhode Island with 4 electoral votes, Washington with 12 electoral votes, New York with 29 electoral votes, New Jersey with 14 electoral votes, Washington DC with 3 electoral votes, Vermont with 3 electoral votes, and Maryland with 10 electoral votes.