Merkley: The Electoral College 'Diminishes the Legitimacy of Our President'

April 1, 2019

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) defended his proposal to abolish the Electoral College, claiming Monday it "diminishes the legitimacy of our president."

Merkley appeared on CNN's OutFront, where he discussed why he believed the Electoral College should be abolished. Host Erin Burnett played a clip of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former California Republican governor and prominent actor, slamming the Democrats for pushing for the Electoral College to be abolished.

"They talk about the Electoral College they should get rid of-- that's not going to do it," Schwarzenegger said. "These are people that say, 'Well, wait a minute you have a bunch of babies whining here because they lost the election or something like this.' No, show leadership."

Burnett reiterated what Schwarzenegger said and asked Merkley whether Democratic opposition to the Electoral College was about "being a sore loser."

"Well, I think Schwarzenegger needs to learn a little about American history and the dark side of how the Electoral College was founded, and it also wouldn't hurt for him to embrace the notion that whoever wins an election with the most support or the most citizens, should be the person who takes the office. That's the fundamental nature of democracy," Merkley said.

Burnett pushed back and said Merkley is only making this point now after two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lost to then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 and that she hasn't been hearing people talk about this issue until now.

Merkley said recent events have exposed the system's flaws, which he claimed "diminishes the legitimacy of our president, which is something else that we should be concerned about."

The Oregon lawmaker introduced legislation Friday as part of a package of election reform bills to abolish the Electoral College.

"It’s time to end the undemocratic Electoral College, and to ensure a pathway to full voting representation for all American citizens, regardless of whether they live in Portland or Puerto Rico," Merkley said in a statement.

Several 2020 Democrats have publicly endorsed abolishing the Electoral College, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.