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US senator pushes to abolish electoral college after Trump win

16 November 2016, 13:09

Washington - A California senator introduced legislation on Tuesday to rid the US of its electoral college, the system that allowed Donald Trump to win the presidency despite Hillary Clinton's lead of nearly one million votes.

The measure comes amid calls for reform following last Tuesday's presidential upset, but is a long-shot.

"This is the only office in the land where you can get more votes and still lose the presidency," said Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who introduced the measure.

The US Constitution specifies that the electoral college ultimately decides the presidential election, not the popular vote.

Each US state is given a number of electors, which corresponds to the size of the state's population.

'Outdated, undemocratic system'

In 48 of 50 states, rules require all of a state's electors to cast their votes for whichever candidate wins the popular vote there, in a winner-take-all system.

Under these rules, the winner of the electoral college vote does not always correspond to the candidate who won the country's popular vote.

"The electoral college is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately. Every American should be guaranteed that their vote counts," Boxer said.Although Clinton received nearly 800 000 more votes than Trump, according to the latest partial results, she lost in the electoral college.

The electoral vote is at 290 for Trump and 232 for Clinton, although one state has yet to be called. No matter its turnout, they do not have enough electors to bring Clinton a win.

More than 4.3 million people have signed a petition on the change.org website asking the college's 538 electors to elect Clinton on December 19, when their votes will be officially counted.

But because 26 states legally mandate that electors vote according to the rules and it is almost unprecedented for the remaining states' electors to disobey, there is little possibility of a Clinton presidency.

Clinton's popular vote performance brings to mind the 2000 election, when Democrat Al Gore lost the White House despite taking 48.4% of the popular vote to George W. Bush's 47.9%.

Hundreds of Constitutional amendments have been proposed over the decades concerning the electoral college, but none has succeeded.

Amending the Constitution requires the agreement of two-thirds of Congress and ratification by three-quarters of the states.

Trump himself had strongly criticised the electoral college in 2012 calling it a "disaster." On Tuesday, however, he changed his tune.

"The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!" Trump tweeted.

- AFP

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