Since its creation, the Electoral College has continuously confused much of the American public and created ongoing controversies during election cycles. This year’s election outcome has been no different, and has even fueled an intense debate among special interest groups as to the legitimacy of the electoral college system.
On Monday, the Electoral College will meet to discuss the possibility of blocking President-elect Trump’s path to the Oval Office. Despite the outcome of the meeting – which is unlikely to result in an overturned decision – our country faces a larger question: Should the Electoral College system be converted to one with “faithless electors,” and if so what are the constitutional implications of this potential systematic shift in America’s electoral process?
While many Democrats are in an uproar over the results of the election, recent polls show that there may not be as much of an ardent support for change as some may think. Even Democrats are split about 50/50 on the idea of systematically changing the structure of the Electoral College, seriously questioning the likelihood of such a shift occurring in the near future.
What frustrated Democrats and millennials should now focus on is accepting that Donald Trump won the election and will soon take his place in the White House. On the other hand, this election should also act as a major wake-up call for our nation and we must begin to proactively consider changing our political process moving forward. It is unrealistic to think that such a dramatic change to a nearly 300-year-old system will occur in a matter of weeks. Instead, we need to focus our efforts and resources on gradually increasing support for a movement to “faithless” electors over the next four years.
Such a process is equally as complicated as the electoral college itself. As millennials now make up the largest block of registered voters in America, it is on us to get this movement rolling. This starts with educating the public on the controversial history of the Electoral College. While many Americans are frustrated with the system, most of them do not know enough about the process itself to effectively participate in active change.
And beyond just educating the public, we as a generation must work pragmatically to reverse an antiquated system gradually. The first step is registering more millennials to vote and pushing them to get engaged in the electoral process on the local, state and national level. Following that, we must work together to come up with a compromise that will respect the role of small states, while also not neglecting the popular vote.
One idea that might be effective is to expand what Maine and Nebraska have done with their electors. Our Constitution sets up the Electoral College, but it leaves it to the states to decide how to apportion their electoral votes. All go with the winner-take-all system, but Maine and Nebraska allocate their electors by congressional districts. In most presidential elections, Maine and Nebraska’s individual districts don’t break off from the rest of the state. But in 2008, Nebraska’s 2nd District, which includes Omaha, went for Barack Obama. This year, Maine’s large, rural 2nd District went for Trump.
This plan would draw presidential candidates to areas that might otherwise have been ignored in our current system. If states apportioned electors by congressional districts, they’d get more attention. Right now, there’s no incentive for candidates to go to safe blue states such as New Jersey or safe red ones like Tennessee. If the electors were apportioned by congressional district, that might change. Republicans would mine New York state’s Republican districts—from the Canadian border to Staten Island—that regularly go red. Likewise, Democrats would play harder in deep-red Texas and Georgia, seeking votes in Houston, Austin, Atlanta and Dallas. Just having a few states adopt this system would make for a more interesting race. Instead of the candidates fawning over a few winner-take-all swing states, they would have to woo more of the country.
The bottom line is that this year’s election results are in the book and Trump will soon take a seat in the Oval Office. Rather than revolting against the outcome of the electoral college in hopes of blocking a Trump presidency, we should instead look to changing the process for the betterment of our nation’s future. Millennials on both sides of the aisle must come together to educate the public and rally support for developing an electoral system that represents our nation’s voters.
Richard Fowler is the host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Richard Fowler Show,” which can also be viewed on YouTube as an affiliate of The Young Turks network. Follow him on Twitter @RichardAFowler.