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Lawsuits Challenge Electoral College

by Countable | 3.9.18

What’s the story?

A coalition of law firms, politicians, and the League of United Latin American Citizens has filed lawsuits claiming the "winner-take-all" Electoral College system violates the Constitution.

Why does it matter?

In 2016, Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote while Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

South Carolina Democrats, who joined the legal challenge, wrote in their suit:

"Trump received 54.94 percent of the vote in South Carolina, yet he received every single electoral vote from South Carolina. Likewise, Secretary Hillary Clinton received 40.67 percent of the vote in South Carolina, but received none of the electoral votes from South Carolina."

The lawsuits argue that the Electoral College system denies citizens their constitutional right to an equal vote. Lawyer David Boies, who’s leading the coalition, said in a statement:

"Under the winner-take-all system, U.S. citizens have been denied their constitutional right to an equal vote in Presidential elections. This is a clear violation of the principle of one person, one vote."

The suits were filed in the reliably red states of South Carolina and Texas and solidly blue states of California and Massachusetts.

What do you think?

Is it time to revisit the Electoral College? Is the "winner-take-all" system unconstitutional? Should all states adopt Maine and Nebraska’s “proportional representation” which splits electors between candidates? Hit Take Action and tell you reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: Electric_Crayon / iStock)

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(348)
  • Donna
    02/24/2018
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    I believe the issue here (and in the lawsuits) is NOT the claim that the Electoral College is unconstitutional (it obviously is not) but rather that the 'winner-take-all' amendments to STATE constitutions violate the US Constitution. The US Constitution clearly states that EVERY REPRESENTATIVE appointed to the Electoral College gets a vote. That is not the case any longer (and hasn't been for some time). Most states have adopted amendments to their individual constitutions requiring EVERY ELECTOR to vote by way of the popular vote in that state. In Florida, for example, DJT won 49% of the vote to 41% for Clinton. Because of the 'winner-take-all' electoral system, DJT was given all 27 votes where, based on the original intent of the Constitution, he should have only been awarded 14 (rounding up). This argument that high-population states skew the results is just not true. States like Montana get one vote. If the majority of the populace votes for DJT, he gets that elector. Conversely, all 55 electoral votes from California were awarded to Clinton, based on her win of the popular vote and that state's 'winner-take-all' system. If California followed the US Constitution and awarded it's electoral votes based on the popular vote, Clinton should only have been awarded 34 of the 55 votes, with DJT getting the remaining 21. Our one voice, one vote system has been overridden by rules imposed by states. The original premise behind the Electoral College still stands today. Maybe we should repeal these winner-take-all rules that actually hinder all candidates and restore the system devised by the Founding Fathers.

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  • Countryfirst
    02/24/2018
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    The need for the electoral college is long gone..the popular vote should be our deciding fact..

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  • operaman
    02/24/2018
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    The Electoral College is of a grand design to prevent New York state or massive California from tilting elections using ”one man, one vote.” The little man in North Dakota need not even bother to vote. Liberals and Progressives trying to overturn the Republic.

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  • Jennifer
    02/24/2018
    ···

    The very question whether the electoral college is unconstitutional shows the ignorance of many, since our Constitution’s framers were genius in its writing and WROTE IT INTO THE CONSTITUTION! Please also consider other points where there is ignorance: 1) We are not and have NEVER been a democracy; we are a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC, therefore a REPRESENTATIVE government; thus the electoral college picks our President; 2) Of the 3141 total US counties, DJT won 2654 counties while HRC won only 487 (that is the accurate count vs the 57 cited on the Internet). I for one will never go for TX, CA, NY, and FL elitists choosing a President for the entire country; 3) The libs and Dems have really shown your hand with this lawsuit; of those suing, the one group standing out...The League of United Latin American Citizens—along with why we need border control and a wall—as who is behind the motives to overturn the greatest’s nation’s Constitution. These infiltrators will not be happy until they’ve stripped us of everything that has made us American, a country with the longest running Constitution and the most freedoms. Wake up before it’s too late. I suggest those who won’t stand up for this country, go live in a myriad of other countries; start with Tijuana or Juarez, Mexico where private citizens cannot legally own guns. I’ll be anxious to know how utopian things are.

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  • Dan
    02/24/2018
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    I’m on the fence about this issue. The Electoral College was setup so that our nation wouldn’t be ruled by “the mob,” as was ancient Rome. There are only 2 states that split their electoral votes up based on the popular votes, rather than use the “winner takes all” method. Maybe more states should set themselves up like Nebraska and Maine, rather than having a Constitutional Amendment be created for this issue. Frankly, I’d like the next Amendment to be about term limits for Congress.

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  • Aaron
    02/24/2018
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    I believe the winner take all system is undemocratic and discourages people from participating in our system of representative democratic government. One person one vote should be the system for elections.

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  • C
    02/24/2018
    ···

    Dana. You are misinformed, there is not now nor ever has been any credible evidence that there is widespread voter fraud in this country. The people who spread these stories are trying to divide Americans and polarize our politics so that we won’t pay attention to the fact that more and more wealth is in the hands of fewer and fewer people and that we have such a poorly educated populace that we are susceptible to believing the equivalent of supermarket tabloid journalism on the web. There are reasonable arguments for the electoral college like protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority, do your research and argue those instead of being played by a lot of xenophobic red meat

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  • Thelma
    02/24/2018
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    The electoral college was designed to appease slave states, where slaves, who had no vote, outnumbered the voting white slaveowners. For the slave owners to have representation, the electoral college was designed. Since we no longer have slaves and slaveowners, because all Americans are supposed to be considered equal, we no longer need the electoral college. For the record, President Obama won both the electoral college and the popular vote, both times. It was only republicans who won elections through the electoral college only - Bush the younger and Trump. Please get rid of the electoral college, a system we no longer need because we no longer need to prop up slave owners.

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  • JTJ
    02/24/2018
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    If our elections were decided by popular vote, there wouldn’t be any reason for us Midwestern citizens to even go to the polls. The system works as it is.

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  • CombatVeteran
    02/24/2018
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    Don't go down this twisty road. The EC works and was proven to be effective in this past election. Dems are sore losers that can't stand not being in control of every facet of our lives. I, for one, choose liberty or death.

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  • ManfromNebraska
    02/24/2018
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    Keep the Electoral College the way it is. The only reason some people don’t like it is because their candidate lost. The founders were very wise in the way they set it all up.

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  • Truly
    02/24/2018
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    This is the second time in recent history that the electoral college has been used to go against the will of the citizens of this country. There are no illegals or dead people voting, that is just more stupidity from those that won’t admit they won by cheating. As it stands, a vast majority of the US did not have their vote count as a full person. When have we seen this before? The last two republican presidents have not been the choice of the citizens of the US. That is not democracy, that is tyranny.

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  • Gerald
    02/24/2018
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    Dan. I understand your willingness to think deeply and critically about this issue. But the electoral college was set up primarily as a way to preserve states rights in the conflict between slave and free states. It guaranteed that the south, which had a lower voting population maintained the potential of winning the Whitehouse. Given that there is no longer the driving need for the electoral college we really have no reason except tradition for keeping it. You expressed here that the college was set up to prevent mob rule as in Ancient Rome and Greece but that is accomplished via our separation of powers, bicameral legislature, and bill of rights so maybe it is time to make the system more democratic and let the people’s voice be heard.

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  • Masen
    02/24/2018
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    All of the comments are that without the electoral college "it wouldn't be worth it to vote if you live in low population states." So its better that MILLIONS of people in California and New York waste their votes? We are letting a very small percentage of Americans decide the presidential election. It is illogical to think that letting 30% of people decide instead of 70% is what is best. Especially if the whole point is to avoid mob rule. The mob just has to be smaller now! Also, the electoral college is the result of a racist system that successfully fought for uneven representation.

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  • Cindy
    02/25/2018
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    What state someone lives in is irrelevant. Electing the leader of the country should be country-wide: one person = one vote.

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  • Dana
    02/24/2018
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    This is not the first election that one candidate won the popular vote (because illegals voted as well as the deceased) and one candidate won the electoral votes. Yet no outrage before. Libs get real.

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  • G
    02/24/2018
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    The electoral college is designed to prevent a few large cities from controlling the entirety of America. It must remain in place regardless of who benefits.

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  • Rick
    02/24/2018
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    The Electoral College has long outlived its usefulness in our elections. Recent elections in 2000 and especially 2016, which benefited the GOP are prime examples. I personally know of no one in favor of the Electoral College.

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  • Joanne
    02/25/2018
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    The electoral college does deny the citizens of America their Constitutional right to a equal vote. It is in violation of the One Person One Vote principle. When I vote for someone it want it to count for that someone.

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    02/25/2018
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    The Electoral College is like an unfair tax on the Citizens, tax without representation. It basically nullifies many people’s votes and does not allow your one vote count in Full. In this manner, it is like a tax without representation. Let’s abolish the Electoral College and go to a true democratic vote, in which ALL citizens (not corporations ) get one vote and it fully counts.

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