clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: change the Electoral College

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks during a visit to Stanford University on February 6, 2017.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks during a visit to Stanford University on February 6, 2017.
Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Speaking to a packed crowd of students and faculty at Stanford University on Monday, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received raucous applause after saying she favored changing the Electoral College. As Politico reports:

[Ginsburg] offered that there are “some things I would like to change, one is the Electoral College,” without providing more details. She seemed like she was about to offer a caveat to that suggestion — “But that would…” she started — before she was interrupted by applause.

The abolishment of the Electoral College has become somewhat of a liberal cause following President Donald Trump’s election on November 8. Though Secretary Hillary Clinton won nearly 3 million more votes than Trump, he won key states that enabled him to reach the 270 delegate threshold, handing him the presidency.

Polls following the election showed that a slight majority of voters favored electing president based on the popular vote and not the Electoral College, but Americans were largely split along partisan lines: Nearly eight in 10 Democrats favored abolishing the Electoral College, while about two-thirds of Republicans favored leaving the current system in place, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll in December.

A similar opposition to the Electoral College surfaced in 2000, after then–Vice President Al Gore lost the election to George W. Bush even though Gore won a majority of votes. At one point in November following Bush’s election, as many as 61 percent of Americans favored eliminating the Electoral College system, according to Gallup.

Regardless of popular opinion or Ginsburg’s opposition, the Electoral College is likely to stay in place. As Vox’s Andrew Prokop explains, changing our election system would require a constitutional amendment — passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate and approved by 38 states — or a constitutional convention called by 34 states, something that’s never been done before.