“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to abolish the electoral college and to provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President of the United States,” reads the text of House Joint Resolution 14.
The effort, led by Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, claims that the “development of mass media and the internet has made information about Presidential candidates easily accessible to United States citizens across the country and around the world.”
In a statement explaining the move, Cohen called the Electoral College an “archaic institution” that “has twice awarded the presidency to a candidate who did not win the popular vote” in the last 20 years.
“Americans expect and deserve the winner of the popular vote to win office,” Cohen’s statement continued. “More than a century ago, we amended our Constitution to provide for the direct election of U.S. Senators. It is past time to directly elect our President and Vice President.”
Cohen also cited the siege of the U.S. Capitol last week, arguing that “efforts can be made to manipulate the Electoral College vote using falsehoods and shenanigans by ambitious politicians.”
“It was during the largely ceremonial certification of the Electoral College vote that a mob invaded the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday at the urging of a president who had lost the popular vote by more than seven million votes,” Cohen continued.
The text of the resolution invokes Thomas Jefferson, who said that he is “not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitution, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.”
The resolution also points out that the Constitution has been amended multiple times to “expand the opportunity for citizens to directly elect their elected leads,” specifically pointing to the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote regardless of race; the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote regardless of gender; and the 26th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote to all citizens over 18 years of age.
The effort comes four years after President Trump won the 2016 election despite losing the national popular vote, which led many Democrats to renew a push to abolish the Electoral College.
Outside of amending the Constitution, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement between a group of states that seeks to circumvent the Electoral College by awarding their electors to the winner of the national popular vote if the compact can reach the necessary 270 votes to win the presidential election. The compact currently has the commitment of 16 jurisdictions, comprising 196 of the 270 votes necessary to trigger the agreement.
But Cohen is seeking to do away with the Electoral College through the traditional amendment process, arguing that it is “past time” to institute a popular vote.
“The President should always be elected by the people, not the politicians, and the Electoral College allows politicians to make the ultimate decision,” Cohen said. “It is well past time to do away with this anachronistic institution and guarantee a fair and accurate vote for President.” ✪