Abolish the Electoral College? This ex-congressional candidate has a plan and a PAC

Source: AP
Source: AP

Donald Trump will be president of the United States, despite the fact Hillary Clinton received nearly 3 million more votes than he did.

The news has one former congressional candidate up in arms.

Jim Mowrer is so up in arms, in fact, he's starting a Political Action Committee to raise money in an effort to abolish the Electoral College — the system the founding fathers created more than 200 years ago to elect U.S. presidents and that, just yesterday, formally handed Trump the presidency.

The PAC is called "The Majority Rules" and it's headed by Mowrer, a veteran of the National Guard who ran two unsuccessful bids for Congress in Iowa in 2014 and 2016.

"We cannot continue in this direction in our American democracy," Mowrer said in an interview with Mic. "We need to elect the official that earns the most votes. We have one chief executive, one president, and every single American's vote should count. And right now we have a system where tens of millions of votes are discounted."

Mowrer's effort to abolish the Electoral College comes as public sentiment toward the constitutionally mandated body is on the decline.

A new poll from Morning Consult/Politico found that 46% of voters say the Electoral College should be replaced by a national popular vote. Just 40% say the Electoral College system should stay in place.

Other politicians are also on board with the idea — including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has maintained his popularity among progressive voters since losing the Democratic primary to Clinton last summer.

Unsurprisingly, the poll showed a big divide in how Democrats and Republicans view the Electoral College.

Nearly seven in 10 Democrats said the popular vote should pick the winner. (In modern history, there have been two elections in which the popular vote split with the Electoral College. Both times, the Democratic candidate lost.)

On the flip side, 62% of Republicans said the Electoral College should stay.

Mowrer said such a divide makes a Constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College — which would require two-thirds in both the House of Representatives and the Senate — a nonstarter.

"The most direct way to that" — ending the Electoral College — "would be a Constitutional amendment, but obviously we know the bar to a Constitutional amendment is very high," Mowrer said.

Instead, Mowrer said his PAC will focus on supporting state-driven ballot initiatives to enact the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

States that sign the compact pledge their Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote, even if a different candidate won their state. The pact only kicks in once states whose Electoral College votes total 270 — the amount needed for victory — sign on.

For example, if the pact had been activated, Pennsylvania would have given its 20 Electoral College votes to Clinton, even though Trump narrowly carried the state.

Eleven states with a combined 165 Electoral College votes have already signed on.

Mowrer said his PAC will also support candidates who back legislation to add their state to the pact's signatories.

"We're going to engage in direct political action use the resources gathered by the PAC to support candidates in these states to support lobbying efforts" for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Mowrer said. "We'll also support ballot initiatives in states where we are able to get ballot initiatives."

He said the PAC will initially target Oregon and Connecticut, two states whose Electoral College votes add up to 14. 

"We believe that there is a desire in these states to support the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and I believe it's something we can get passed in the state legislatures there," Mowrer said.

Now is the perfect time to help grow the movement to change the Electoral College, Mowrer said, and he hopes his PAC will help strike when the iron is hot.

"This is very clearly a problem," Mowrer added. "And it's not about partisan politics. It's about ensuring the person who becomes the president of the United States won the most votes."

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Emily C. Singer

Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, is a senior writer for Mic covering politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at esinger@mic.com

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