WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — House Democrats officially relaunched their push to abolish the Electoral College this week.
The member leading the charge, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-TN, argues Congress should never have a chance to decide who the next president is, but even his caucus’s control of the House, Senate and White House probably won’t be enough to push the effort forward.
“It’s even more important now,” Cohen argued.
Cohen said the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 strengthened his effort to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system.
“We’ve never seen a case more descriptive and more scary than this one where the politicians tried to control the election of the president over the will of the people,” he said.
Congress traditionally serves more of an administrative role in certifying states’ electoral votes, but the House intervenes if neither presidential candidate is able to reach the 270 threshold. Biden received 306 votes compared to President Trump’s 232, but a group of Republicans tried to challenge the results the same day as the Capitol insurrection.
“The bottom line is the Electoral College, as we’ve seen on Wednesday, allows the House of Representatives and the Senate to possibly get involved in how the election is determined,” Cohen said. “That should never be the case.”
Cohen reintroduced his constitutional amendment Monday to repeal the current system.
“If everybody’s vote counts and counts equally, candidates would go to every state,” he said.
“I think their votes count now,” said John Malcolm, the vice president of the Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Constitutional Government.
Malcolm argues abolishing the Electoral College would give more power to larger, more liberal cities.
“You would end up having a lot of states who have very important interests that are involved in elections, their voices would be completely marginalized if not ignored completely,” he said.
Malcolm said Cohen’s proposal would also not limit controversy and potential civil unrest.
“That might take the target off of the backs of some Congress members, but it would put it on the backs of a lot of local elected officials and American citizens,” he said.
Amending the Constitution isn’t easy. Cohen’s proposal needs support from two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the states.
Another effort to change the Electoral College, the National Popular Vote Movement, is gaining more momentum. States can sign a compact to guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes.
The states’ electoral votes have to add up to the 270 threshold to enact the agreement. So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have signed on, leaving an additional 74 votes before it can take effect.