Elizabeth Warren Wants To Abolish The Electoral College

Democratic Senator of Massachusetts and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has a pretty ambitious plan: abolish the Electoral College.

During a CNN town hall in Mississippi’s Jackson State University on Monday night, the legislator answered an array of questions from host Jake Tapper and the audience. She addressed the importance of reparations from slavery, expanding voting rights for former felons while promoting online voting registration, and early voting. She also discussed what some might consider her most radical idea.

“Come a general election, presidential candidates don’t come to places like Mississippi, they also don’t come to places like California or Massachusetts, because we’re not the battleground states," she said when Rukia Lumumba, sister of Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, raised the question on voting rights. "My view is that every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College — and every vote counts.”

Her call to get rid of the Electoral College received a thunderous ovation. The senator’s proposal to strike down the Electoral College comes amid calls to upend the electoral system at the state level. Colorado, Delaware, and New Mexico recently joined 11 other states and the District of Columbia in an agreement called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which seeks to select their presidential electors based on who wins the national popular vote. The compact can only go into effect if states with at least 270 electoral votes — the number a presidential candidate needs to clinch the White House — support the cause.

With the addition of Colorado, the compact has 181 electoral votes. According to Roll Call, it is unlikely that the agreement would reach 270 before the 2020 election. Democrats became staunch critics of the Electoral College after Al Gore won nearly 500,000 more popular votes, but lost the Electoral College vote to President George W. Bush in 2000. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton also won the popular vote in 2016 with nearly 3 million more votes, but Donald Trump became the nation’s 45th president with 306 Electoral College votes.

Republicans were quick to criticize Warren’s remarks. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Tuesday that Democrats want to disparage the importance of the Electoral College by dwindling rural America’s influence in electoral decisions. "The desire to abolish the Electoral College is driven by the idea Democrats want rural America to go away politically," Graham tweeted with a link to a report from Fox News on Warren’s call to abolish the system.

Warren is not the only candidate willing to scrap the process. Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and 2020 presidential hopeful told CBS This Morning on January 31 that "the Electoral College needs to go because it's made our society less and less democratic.”

During the CNN town hall, Warren also said that Mississippi should embrace a new flag that doesn’t bear the Confederate battle flag emblem, adding that Confederate commemoration status and monuments must be removed and placed in museums. Confederate symbols are scattered across Mississippi’s territory, but the idea of removing Confederate status is gaining some ground in the state. The University of Mississippi student government voted unanimously to remove a monument of a Confederate soldier from their campus earlier this month.

About the Author

Robert Valencia is the breaking news editor for The North Star. His work as editor and reporter appeared on Newsweek, World Politics Review, Mic.com, Public Radio International and The Miami Herald, among other outlets. He’s a frequent commentator on foreign affairs and US politics on Al Jazeera English, CNN en Español, Univision, Telemundo, Voice of America, C-SPAN, Sirius XM and other media outlets across Latin America and the Caribbean.