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WATCH: Law Professor Explains The Electoral College And Why It Should Be Abolished

Wilfred U. Codrington III (Image Courtesy of Brennan Center for Justice)

For a moment on the evening of November 3, 2020, many Democratic voters feared a repeat of election night 2016, which saw former Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, the clear favorite to win the presidency, end the night in defeat. Granted, many factors ended Clinton’s historic candidacy that paved the way for the Trump era in American politics, but almost no single decision made by the Clinton Campaign came under the amount of scrutiny that the Electoral College faced following Clinton’s devastating loss. 

According to a recent Gallup Poll , three in five Americans (61%) favor amending the U.S. Constitution to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system. If American presidents were selected based on the popular vote, Clinton, who surpassed Trump by nearly 3 million popular votes, would be the 45th president, but the electoral college had the final say—not the popular vote. 

For this and several other reasons, Wilfred Codrington III, an assistant professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, says he believes the Electoral College should be abolished. 

“In a country that professes to believe in democracy and the power of the people, and equality as enshrined in the constitution, and the 14th amendment, and other places, I think we should be in this place where we really espouse that and put that into action—and that’s by getting rid of the Electoral College,” said Codrington. “Because there is no system in which a majority of the people voting for one person doesn’t matter. You can lose by winning and you can win by losing. And that’s problematic,” he said. 

Codrington, who is also a Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and an Electoral College expert, sat down with The Reckoning to share his expertise about the history of the Electoral College and how it continues to impact modern politics. 

What is the Electoral College? 

“The electoral college basically says, look, we’re going to rely on the state legislators to choose the electors who are gonna speak on behalf of the state as to whom should be president,” said Codrington. 

Why does it hold more weight than the popular vote?

“The most votes doesn’t necessarily matter. That would be the icing on the cake. The race is really about 270 electoral votes.  Effectively, you need to win the majority of the electoral votes,” he said. 

Is it true that the origins of the Electoral College are rooted in chattel slavery and racism that continue to impact voters of color today?

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