THE BLOG
11/29/2016 06:22 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2017

It's Time For The Winners To Win

The Washington Post via Getty Images

Name an elected office in America, other than the president, where the candidate who wins the most votes can still lose the election.

You can't.

The presidency is the only office in the land where the winner is decided not by the popular vote, but by the Electoral College -- an outdated system that does not reflect our democracy or the principle of "one person, one vote."

Every American, regardless of what state they live in, should be guaranteed that their vote matters. That's why it is long past time that we abolished the Electoral College. It is time for the winners to actually win the election.

Throughout our great nation's history, there have been five elections where the winner of the general election did not win the popular vote. In my lifetime, it has happened twice -- both times in the last 16 years -- and it needs to be addressed.

Right now, Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote stands at 2.3 million votes, and her lead is expected to grow. By the time all the votes are counted, it looks like she may win by 2.7 million votes. That would be more than the votes cast in Alaska, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Vermont and the Dakotas combined.

Clinton will have won the popular vote by a wider percentage margin than not only Al Gore in 2000, but also Richard Nixon in 1968 and John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Donald Trump tweeted in 2012: "The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy." I couldn't agree more.

Then during an interview on "60 Minutes" right after the 2016 election, Trump said his views on the Electoral College had not changed: "...I'm not going to change my mind just because I won. But I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win."

Those comments must have driven his advisers crazy, because by the next morning, he was tweeting that the Electoral College system was "actually genius."

He also tweeted that "If the election were based on the total popular vote I would have campaigned in NY, Florida and California and won even bigger and more easily."

Well, he may be right about one thing: if we didn't have the Electoral College, candidates would actually have to campaign in every state because the votes of every American would matter.

According to nationalpopularvote.com, 94 percent of the campaigning by the presidential candidates in 2016 took place in just 12 states, and two-thirds of these general election campaign events took place in just six states.

That's why Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said this in 2015: "The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president. Twelve states are."

What message does that send to the 39 million Americans who live in California? What message does that send to the 27 million Americans who live in Texas? What message does it send to voters in smaller states like North Dakota and Rhode Island where the candidates don't even bother to campaign for their votes?

No wonder voter turnout was just 58 percent in this election. Too many Americans feel that their vote doesn't count!

Political science experts agree.

Doug McAdam, professor of sociology at Stanford University, asked, "What about all those citizens who reside in non-competitive states? Consider the loyal Republican who lives in California or the stalwart Mississippi Democrat? Every four years, voting for them is an exercise in political powerlessness, at least when it comes to the presidential race."

William Crotty, professor emeritus of political science at Northeastern University, said the Electoral College "...has never worked well. The fact is that it is a terrible system that has no place in an age where democracy is ascendant. It continues to exist from sheer inertia and the protection of entrenched power. It has little to do with democracy."

John Feerick, professor of law at Fordham University, said, "Not only have reasons for the Electoral College long since vanished but the institution has not fulfilled the design of the framers. Today it represents little more than an archaic and undemocratic counting device. There is no good reason for retaining such a formula of electing the president of the United States."

That's why I recently introduced legislation to abolish the Electoral College, though a Constitutional amendment is no easy task. It would need to be enacted by Congress and would take effect only after being ratified by three-fourths of the states within seven years after its passage.

There is another way to address this, called the National Popular Vote plan, which would guarantee that the presidential candidate who wins the most votes would be elected our next President.

All it requires is for enough states to act. It is essentially an interstate compact where the states would agree to award all of their electoral votes collectively to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. The agreement takes effect only once the participating states together hold a majority of electoral votes - that is, enough to elect a President.

So far, this National Popular Vote bill has been enacted into law by 10 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in a total 165 electoral votes, and it has been introduced in every state in the country.

This approach also has support on both sides of the aisle. In fact, Trump supporter Newt Gingrich wrote a letter in 2014 endorsing the idea: "No one should become president of the United States without speaking to the needs and hopes of Americans in all 50 states... America would be better served with a presidential election process that treated citizens across the country equally."

And former Republican Congressman Bob Barr has said, "Only when the election process is given back to all the people of all the states, will we be able to choose a President based on what is best for all 50 states and not just a select few."

I'll be honest: My legislation faces an uphill battle, but it is time to change how we elect presidents in this country.

I have heard from so many people after this election that they feel like their vote doesn't count. Well, there is a way to make your voice heard: Write and call your Senators and Members of Congress. Tell them about this bill and ask them to sign onto it.

But don't stop there. Write and call your representatives in the statehouse and push for your state to take up the National Popular Vote plan.

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. Generations of Americans of every gender, race, religion and ideology have marched and struggled and died to secure this fundamental right.

We owe it to them and to future generations to ensure that every vote matters and every vote counts. We owe it to them to ensure that the vote of a citizen in my state is worth the same as the vote of someone in a "swing" state. We owe to them to fight for the principle of "one person, one vote."

By making this critical change, we will engage voters in all 50 states. We will lift voter turnout. We will ensure that presidential candidates speak to the needs of Americans in every state and every region of our county. And we will ensure equal representation for all.