Why We Won't Eliminate the Electoral College
By David Henderson
Co-blogger Garett Jones has an interesting post making his case for the electoral college. I don’t have a strong view either way, but I can tell you why it’s extremely unlikely that the electoral college will ever be eliminated.
The reason is basically that to eliminate the electoral college would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. How is the Constitution amended? Here’s Article V:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
Whichever means is used, therefore, 3/4 of the states must agree. That’s 37.5, which means 38. So all you need is 13 states to block.
Let’s look at the allocation of electoral votes.
Number of states (including D.C.) with the minimum of 3: 8–Alaska, D.C., Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.
Number of states with 4: 5–Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island.
That’s a total of 13. Of course, D.C. is not a state, so we really have 12, which is not enough to block. But there are three states with 5 electoral votes: West Virginia, Nebraska, and New Mexico. So the total number of states with 5 or fewer electoral votes is 15. They are clearly a blocking coalition. All of them would lose power in deciding the presidency if the electoral college were eliminated.