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What would it take to reform the U.S. Presidential Elections such that either

  • The President is elected by popular vote, abolishing the electoral college completely, or
  • every state is mandated to allocate their electors proportionally?

The former would guarantee that the candidate with the most votes wins the presidency; the second would not completely guarantee it but would make it far less likely for the electoral college vote winner to be different from the popular vote winner.

What would be the procedure to introduce such a change?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – yannis Nov 15 '16 at 20:30
  • @ SJuan76 I think that using a county-by-county method is a legitimate way to proportionally allocate electors if the individual states are required to do so. Otherwise, we're right back in the "Tyranny of the Majority". – Michael J. Nov 15 '16 at 20:31
  • @MichaelJ. this conversation has been moved to chat. – SJuan76 Nov 15 '16 at 20:42
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Amendment

The electoral system is defined in the constitution (Article II and Amendment XII), so to completely abolish it would require a constitutional amendment. That can technically be done in a couple different ways (see Article V), but in practice requires two thirds of congress and three fourths of the states, so it's very difficult. Still, such amendments have been proposed, the most recent being filed today.

Re-allocation

Your second suggestion (or something like it) is much more feasible. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is a state law that awards all of a state's electors to the winner of the national popular vote, but only once enough states have joined the compact to make an electoral majority.

Article II stipulates that legislature of each state direct the selection of the state's electors, so they're well within their power to change that mechanism, and the NPVIC only requires enough states to represent a majority of the electoral college, which is a much lower bar than the three fourths for an amendment.

At the moment, it has 165 of the 270 electoral votes needed to take effect. However, crossing the 270 threshold will require some states that are currently Republican-controlled. As only Democrats have ever been burned by the Electoral College, Republicans don't have a lot of incentive to change the status quo. However, most Americans do support a national popular vote for president, so perhaps the political will is there.

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    @KDog If it applies in a states whose sum of electoral votes exceeds 270, it would be irrelevant what the rest does, or? – gerrit Nov 15 '16 at 19:49
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    @KDog 1) I noted and linked the details of the amendment process. I think it appropriate for brevity in the answer to focus on the only way that process has actually ever happened. – Jacktose Nov 15 '16 at 19:50
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    @KDog & gerrit 4) It takes effect when the members represent a majority of the EC. That means it would decide the winner, regardless of what the other states do. – Jacktose Nov 15 '16 at 19:53
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    @KDog It would lessen the power of the state governments of the non-member states, but it would not disenfranchise the voters because they still contribute to the national tally. They would be just as enfranchised as every other voter, which is of course the point. – Jacktose Nov 15 '16 at 20:25
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    The thing with the National Pact is that it cannot bind a state to stay in it indefinitely. A state could unilaterally decide to leave the pact. – eques Nov 15 '16 at 21:43
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Perhaps the most straight-forward way to "reform" the Electoral College is to adopt the Wyoming Rule which would set the size of the House to about 545 Representatives, instead of the current 435. This could be done by federal legislation alone (the current size was fixed by law in 1929); no constitutional amendment, no cooperation from individual states.

According to the analysis in this answer, the electoral collage result of 2016 would be closer (334 or 333 to 315), but still the same ultimate outcome. See What effect would the Wyoming Rule, if in place, have had on the elections since the year 2000? for further discussion.

  • That's actually a relatively easy and simple way but at the expense of not fully equaling a popular vote. It would still be possible to become elected without a majority of the popular vote. – Trilarion Feb 8 '18 at 10:10
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    This seems only tangentially related to the question. – Acccumulation Apr 18 at 15:58
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Both Options would require a constitutional amendment. As it currently stands the National Popular Vote Compact is not abolishing the system, but the states agreeing to the rules of allocation for their states electors.

Completely switching to a National Vote would require an amendment to the constitution to become valid. This is less tenable than the compact as it requires 3/4ths of states to ratify the amendment (after both houses pass it in 2/3rds majority no less) or a constitutional convention of states (Never been done before). This is also true for require proportional representation as the states each have a right to establish their own voting system and are free to choose how they allocate electors, be it proprortional representation (Maine and Nebraska), Winner Take All (everyone else), or Candidates compete in a match of Calvinball to the Death (No one ever, thank God!).

  • Final alternative would save a lot of money. – gerrit Jun 5 at 19:05
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    @gerrit - I'm not saying I won't watch the game day match with as much furvor as the Superbowl (maybe even more), I'm just saying on the ranking "basis for a system of government" it ranks below "Random Women, living in lakes, handing out swords." – hszmv Jun 5 at 19:08

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