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'We Have a President Who Lost the Popular Vote by Three Million': Sanders Backs Abolishing the Electoral College

Nearly two-thirds of Americans support replacing the Electoral College with a national popular vote system, according to recent polling

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to the crowd during the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday expressed support for abolishing the Electoral College, arguing it is difficult to justify a system that allows a candidate to become president after losing the popular vote by a large margin.

"It is hard to defend a system in which we have a president who lost the popular vote by three million votes," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said during a town hall hosted by the League of United Latin American Citizens. "So the answer is yes."

Two out of the last three American presidents—Republicans George W. Bush and Donald Trump—lost the popular vote, prompting growing support among lawmakers for scrapping the arcane and undemocratic system that made their election victories possible.

By backing growing calls to eliminate the Electoral College, Sanders joined several of his 2020 presidential rivals, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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"My view is that every vote matters," Warren said during a CNN town hall in March, "and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College, and every vote counts."

According to recent polling data, most Americans support replacing the Electoral College with a national popular vote system.

A Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey published last July found that, "By roughly a two-to-one margin, Americans say they would prefer if presidential elections were decided by the national popular vote as opposed to the Electoral College."

"Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans believe that presidential elections should be decided based on the national popular vote," PRRI's poll showed, "while about one-third (32 percent) believe they should be decided through the Electoral College."

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