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Election Debate: Is The Electoral College The Best Way To Pick A President?

(CBS13) — It's a question that comes up every four years, and especially after the contentious 2020 election: can we get rid of the Electoral College?

"Just like anything, you think it is working if it goes your direction and you don't if it won't," CBS13 Political Analyst Gary Dietrich said.

Is the Electoral College the best way to pick a president? It's a system that was created when slavery was legal and only men could vote. But getting rid of it is no small task, according to Dietrich.

"It would mean you would have to do a constitutional amendment. That is not easily done," Dietrich said.

While a candidate could win the popular vote, currently it does not guarantee victory. It happened in 2000 with Al Gore, and again in 2016 with Hillary Clinton.

An alternate solution is a compact that determines a president based on the popular vote. Fifteen states including California and the District of Columbia support the idea. It would take states with an additional 74 electoral votes to join the compact before it could take effect without having to change the constitution.

UC Davis political science professor Isaac Hale believes the national popular vote model would create higher voter turnout.

"The trickier thing is going to be able to convince Republican state legislatures and Republican governors to sign on to this initiative when historically the electoral college, especially in recent elections, has been a benefit to the Republican party," Hale said. "If presidential candidates had to really compete over California voters their concerns would be a lot more front and center."

Sixty-one percent of Americans support ending the Electoral College, according to a Gallup poll.

"For California, we might love it. We might have parking spaces on our airports dedicated to presidential jets because they would be here so often," Dietrich said.

Even with the push, Dietrich believes it won't happen anytime soon.

"I really think it is going to go on for a long time," Dietrich said.

The states that have signed onto the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact have largely been democratic-controlled.

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