February 21, 2018
Lawsuits challenging the winner-take-all system of allocating electoral votes were filed in four states Tuesday. The filings took place in four states which have voted for the same party in the last 7 or more presidential elections. These include California and Massachusetts on the Democratic side and the heavily Republican states of Texas and South Carolina.
The suits do not challenge the use of the Electoral College system - which is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution - but instead that winner-take-all disenfranchises many voters. The ultimate goal of the plaintiffs is to establish an allocation of electoral votes proportional to the popular vote across the 48 states that today use winner-take-all. Nebraska and Maine use a different method that partially allocates electoral votes by congressional district.
The plaintiffs vary by state, but include the League of United Latin American Citizens and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld. The legal team is led by David Boies, who represented then Vice-President Al Gore in the Bush v. Gore case that resolved the disputed 2000 presidential election. In that election, as in 2016, the Democratic nominee lost the election - by falling short of 270 electoral votes - despite winning the popular vote.
This isn't the first effort to modify winner-take-all. Several state legislatures have introduced their own proposals over the years. These are almost always partisan efforts, occuring when the party controlling the legislature is not the one winning in presidential races. In our Gaming the Electoral College feature, we look at the impact of various methodologies that have been proposed.