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Bennett Advances Electoral College Reform

August 15, 2006 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

CHICAGO --- A legal scholar who has been influential in the recent momentum to try to reform the Electoral College is the author of a new book, “Taming the Electoral College” (Stanford University Press).

The book by Robert Bennett, Nathaniel L. Nathanson Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law, advances non-constitutional approaches to reform, given the difficulty in amending the U.S. Constitution.

In the wake of the 2000 election, Bennett advanced a non-constitutional way to achieve a nationwide popular vote for president, by having just a few states award their electors to the winner of the nationwide vote -- instead of to the winner of the statewide votes, as most states do now.

The basic idea was later promoted by a group of former members of Congress and was described as “ingenious” in a March 14 New York Times editorial. The book explores the possibilities and very real difficulties in the effort.

Bennett also thinks there are more urgent matters calling for reform. Most serious, in his view, is the possibility that “faithless electors” would ignore the popular vote in their states and change an election outcome. If an election were changed by faithless electors, Bennett argues, the damage to American democracy could be very great. He offers a non-constitutional solution to this problem as well.

“Bennett's book on the Electoral College is the best book on this subject in years, if not ever,” according to an Aug. 1 article in Ballot Access News.

Topics: Research