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Should California lawmakers work to end the electoral college?

Protesters made their last stand before members of the electoral college gathered to vote on Dec. 19 at the State Capitol. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

December 31, 2016

Protesters across the nation lost their last ditch attempt to sway the electoral college from voting for president-elect Donald Trump last week. But a California lawyer wants to reignite debate over the process that sealed Trump’s victory in 2018.

Rodrigo Howard, an attorney with CapKey Advisors, has proposed an initiative for the 2018 ballot that would ask voters whether state lawmakers should work to modify or eliminate the electoral college, so that the vote for president and vice president more closely resembles the outcome of the national popular vote.

Howard said the proposal is an open-ended measure that could encourage lawmakers to use their authority to adopt interstate compacts or ratify amendments to the U.S. Constitution, a difficult process that involves the approval of three-fourths of the states. The petition was received on Wednesday by the Attorney General’s office.

Changing the electoral college process is a long shot. But the system has been at the center of heated debate since the election of Trump, who won the presidency with 304 electoral college votes , though he lost the national popular vote — Hillary Clinton defeated him by almost 2.9 million ballots.

Howard said he refused “to believe change is impossible.”

“The electoral college is an archaic system with roots in 18th century compromises, and one of those compromises has its roots in slavery,” he said. “We are stuck with a system that does not have moral or political legitimacy.”