“Abolish the Electoral College,” Bernie Sanders recently tweeted. The Senator’s statement was in response to an op-ed authored by The Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman, who posited that though President Donald Trump suffers from a low national approval rating, the Electoral College could still hand him a victory. Earlier in the day, The New York Times’ Nate Cohn penned a similar analysis, estimating that the president “could win while losing the national vote by as much as five percentage points.”
No matter the question—be it “Should we reelect the racist?” or “Is health care a right or a privilege?”—we can’t receive an answer if the election is not an accurate representation of the national will.
Earlier in the year, the topic of how we elect the president briefly garnered widespread news coverage after Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, at a CNN town hall, called for the elimination of the archaic executive branch electoral system. The news cycle moved on and the national conversation soon dampened to a whisper, but we cannot let the discussion die. The likelihood a president will be elected with a minority of the popular vote could increase moving forward, and that would further undermine the legitimacy of the Oval Office—perhaps irreparably.
As both Wasserman and Cohn note, demographics are a driving force behind a potential electoral vote–popular vote split in 2020. But less reported is the effect of the war over voting rights.
Across the country, states under Democratic control are passing pro-voter reforms, such as automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, or preregistration for 16-year-olds. At the same time, GOP-controlled states—including some swing states—have passed regressive, anti-voter legislation. These measures, such as voter ID laws and burdensome registration requirements, when paired with aggressive voter-roll purges, decrease turnout.