There’s a creative, and perfectly legal, way to dispense with the Electoral College without amending the Constitution. Here’s how it was described recently by The New Yorker:
The Electoral College is enshrined in the Constitution itself, so getting rid of it would require the concurrence of two-thirds of both houses of Congress plus three-quarters of the state legislatures. That’s not going to happen.
But maybe it doesn’t have to. The promoters of the Campaign for a National Popular Vote, as they’re calling themselves, have come up with an elegant finesse. Instead of trying to change the Constitution, they propose to apply it, one bit in particular: Article II, Section 1, which instructs each state to “appoint” its Presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Here’s how the plan would work. One by one, legislature by legislature, state law by state law, individual states would pledge themselves to an interstate compact under which they would agree to award their electoral votes to the nationwide winner of the popular vote. The compact would take effect only when enough states had joined it to elect a President—that is, enough to cast a majority of the five hundred and thirty-eight electoral votes. (Theoretically, as few as eleven states could do the trick.) And then, presto! All of a sudden, the people of all fifty states plus the District of Columbia are empowered to elect their President the same way they elect their governors, mayors, senators, and congressmen. We still have the Electoral College, with its colorful eighteenth-century rituals, but it can no longer do any damage. It becomes a tourist attraction, like the British monarchy.
I am very much in favor of this plan. As a New Yorker, I am heartily sick of my state being neglected by both parties during the Presidential election cycle except as an ATM. Very few rallies, but a hell of a lot of fundraisers. I had to go to New Hampshire during the last election to see anything in the way of actual political effort being put into a state, and the difference was astounding. I was aware there was an election because I followed the news, but I never really felt it until I signed up for the last week of the Kerry campaign in Manchester.
Not to mention, the fact that New York has so little importance in Presidential campaigns diminishes its political importance overall, and further alienates people like me, who feel that nothing we do can have any national impact or influence while people in New Hampshire, Florida and Ohio are courted incessantly by politicians.
That’s why I want to make every Presidential campaign a national campaign.