During a CNN town hall in Mississippi, a 2020 presidential contender called for sweeping election reforms to ensure that Americans' votes are equally represented. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the Electoral College should be eliminated because she believes it prioritizes some votes over others. The senator from Massachusetts stressed that "every vote matters" as she made her appeal to the crowd.
As CBS News noted, the Electoral College has been a source of frustration for Democrats in recent years. Since 2000, two Democratic presidential candidates, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College — and therefore the presidency. Warren alluded to this disparity between the popular vote and the Electoral College winner when making her case for eliminating the process. As the senator put it, per The New York Times:
My view is that every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College.
Warren also stressed that having the Electoral College in place means that, many times, presidential candidates only campaign in states that are seen as crucial to winning the presidency through this system. The Times noted that Warren sees this campaigning strategy as unfair and believes it needs to change.
"Presidential candidates don't come to places like Mississippi [during campaign season] ... They also don't come to places like California and Massachusetts, right?," Warren said, per a CBS News report. "Because we're not the battleground states."
CNN's town hall wasn't the first time Warren criticized the Electoral College. During the Center for American Progress (CAP)'s Ideas Conference in May 2018, the senator suggested that the system has perpetuated an unhealthy democracy in the United States. As Warren described at the conference, per RealClear Politics:
In 2016, nearly three million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump – but Trump took the presidency. That's not exactly the sign of a healthy democracy. Democracy hangs on the idea that whoever gets the most votes wins.
In addition to proposing the eradication of the Electoral College at Monday's town hall, Warren also strongly advocated for reforms to address voter suppression.
“I believe we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and makes sure that vote gets counted,” Warren said, according to Fox News. “We need to put some federal muscle behind that, and we need to repeal every one of the voter suppression laws that is out there.”
Warren's push for voting reform holds particular significance after the 2016 presidential election, as a report from CAP found that many voters were disenfranchised at the ballot box. The report noted that many Americans encountered roadblocks to casting a ballot because of new voter ID laws, reduced early voting periods, polling place closures, and more.
It's clear that as a presidential candidate, Warren is placing a high priority on ensuring that all Americans' votes are treated equally — and many audience members at the town hall seemed to approve of her plan. In fact, Reuters reported that the senator received particularly exuberant applause when she suggested doing away with the Electoral College system.