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Picking a President: Is It Time to Reform the Electoral College?

October 17, 2012, 12:00pm ET - 1:00pm ET



The American method of choosing a president, indirect election through the Electoral College, is unique among systems of government in which the president possesses genuine political power. Reaching 270 votes in the Electoral College is necessary to become president, not which candidate wins the most votes of the American people. It is just 12 years since the Electoral College and popular vote returned different results, and on at least two other occasions the candidate who received the plurality of the votes was not elected president. These outcomes have prompted many across the country to question the utility of the Electoral College and led to calls for reform.

One such reform proposal is the National Popular Vote compact. Under this proposal, all of a state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact would take affect when it has been adopted by enough states to pass the 270 electoral vote threshold. Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia, comprising 132 electoral votes, have passed the National Popular Vote compact, nearly half way to the necessary total. But is this the right kind of reform or is reform even necessary?

As this presidential election draws to a finale, please join the Center for American Progress Action Fund in welcoming two of the country’s leading voting experts as they debate reforming the Electoral College and the National Popular Vote compact.