Several protesters stood in a line outside the Mississippi Capitol on Dec. 16 chanting "Brief the electors; send it to the House!" They were primarily protesting the Electoral College, the increasingly problematic way in which the United States has elected its president since it was adopted in 1787.
Protesters have an odd ally against the Electoral College: Gov. Phil Bryant. Before the 2016 election swung to his preferred candidate, Bryant told reporters that the system favors states with higher population areas. States get the same number of electoral votes as they do representatives and senators in Congress. For a small population state like Mississippi, that means only six electoral votes. For a state like Texas, that means 38.
"It has been designed for some time, if you looked at the electoral college, to favor the states like New York, California, others in the population areas," he told the Associated Press in October.
"So, if you can capture those states, more than likely you can capture the presidency. And oftentimes, we're referred to just as flyover country. I don't think that's proper."
The electoral college distills who wins the presidency down to 538 national votes, essentially discounting a state's voters whose candidate loses. In Mississippi that would be the 40 percent of voters who voted for Hillary Clinton. In a state like California, that would be all the voters who voted for Donald Trump.
In the meantime, a national tally of votes, called the popular vote, represents a more accurate picture of how America voted if you assume each person's vote should carry the same weight: In 2016's case, the U.S. electorate voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton—with almost 3 million more votes cast for the Democrat on Election Day.
A variety of options exist short of a constitutional amendment to do away with the Electoral College. For instance, by apportioning votes according to the popular vote in that state (like Maine and Nebraska do) you get something closer to the popular vote.
Likewise, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact could essentially nullify the Electoral College if enough states sign on.
(Participants in the Compact, who are essentially agreeing to award all of their state electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, would need to represent over 270 electoral votes; currently they cover 165.)
It is time to do away with an outdated system of electing a president that was created in a time when people of color and women were not allowed to vote or run for office. Democrats in Congress are already proposing legislation to do away with the electoral college—a notion that seems to have bi-partisan support, as far as Mississippi's governor was concerned ... at least, before the Electoral College voted for his candidate over the popular winner.
We call on Gov. Bryant to continue calling for a much more representative form of election the U.S. president. Every vote should indeed count.