Ranking Member Cohen Introduces Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to Eliminate the Electoral College

January 5, 2017
Press Release
Congress to certify results of the Electoral College on Friday

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today introduced an amendment to the United States Constitution that would eliminate the Electoral College and provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President of the United States. Congressman Cohen is Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, the subcommittee with jurisdiction over all proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“For the second time in recent memory, and for the fifth time in our history, the national popular vote winner – including Tennesseans Al Gore and Andrew Jackson -- will not become President of the United States because of the Electoral College,” said Congressman Cohen. “The Electoral College is an antiquated system that was established to prevent citizens from directly electing our nation’s President, yet that notion is antithetical to our understanding of democracy. In our country, ‘We the People’ are supposed to determine who represents us in elective office.”

“When the Founders established the electoral college it was in an era of limited nationwide communication. It was premised on a theory that citizens would have a better chance of knowing about electors from their home states than about presidential candidates from out-of-state. However, the development of mass media and the internet has made information about presidential candidates easily accessible to U.S. citizens across the country and around the world. Most people don’t even know who their electors are.”

“Electors were supposed to be people with good judgment who were trusted with picking a qualified President and Vice President on behalf of the people, but they have evolved into being rubber stamps. Most states legally bind their electors to vote for whomever wins the popular vote of that state, so they can no longer reflect individual judgement for a candidate. As Congress certifies the results of the Electoral College tomorrow, I urge my colleagues to consider this constitutional amendment to fix this anachronistic process for future Presidential elections. We should make our Constitution better reflect the ‘more perfect Union’ to which it aspires.”

In December, Congressman Cohen participated in a forum hosted by members of the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan experts and noted scholars to discuss proposed reforms to the current method of presidential selection, entitled “The Electoral College and the Future of American Democracy.” A video of Congressman Cohen’s remarks can be found here.