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Electoral college target of bill in Congress, lawsuit

LOS ANGELES — Retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., introduced a bill Nov. 15 that would scrap the Electoral College and determine the winner of presidential elections by the outcome of the popular vote.

Despite President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the Electoral College, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton currently leads the popular vote by nearly 1 million votes.

“In my lifetime, I have seen two elections where the winner of the general election did not win the popular vote,” Boxer said. “The Electoral College is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately. Every American should be guaranteed that their vote counts.”

Boxer’s legislation would amend the Constitution of the United States to abolish the Electoral College. The long-shot amendment would take effect only if ratified by three-fourths of the states within seven years after its passage by Congress.

“In 2012, Donald Trump tweeted, ‘The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,’” Boxer said. “I couldn’t agree more. One person, one vote.”

As of Nov. 15, Clinton has 61,329,657 votes and Trump has 60,530,867. It is the fifth time in history that a nominee has won the popular vote but not the Electoral College.

It last happened to Al Gore in 2000, when he lost to George W. Bush.

California voters Nov. 8 elected Boxer’s successor, the state’s first new U.S. senator in 24 years. State Attorney General Kamala Harris will be the first black politician in history to represent California in the Senate.

While Boxer was introducing her bill in Congress, a Hillary Clinton supporter in Los Angeles was suing the 538 members of the Electoral College in a last-ditch effort to prevent Trump from taking office, court papers show.

John S. Birke, a Los Angeles attorney, filed the federal complaint alleging that the electors’ votes for Trump are poised to violate the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment and the “fundamental principle of ‘one person, one vote.’”

Birke contends that unless the court issues injunctive relief, the members of the Electoral College on Dec. 19 “will effectively cause a single vote for Clinton to be valued less than a single vote for Trump,” thus violating the one person, one vote guarantee.

“Fundamental rights trump a procedure — no pun intended,” Birke said, further arguing that Trump’s election should not be allowed if Clinton is ahead in the popular vote.

The attorney said he reacted to Trump’s win with “absolute shock, disgust and horror — followed by two days of wanting to stay under the covers with the lights off.”

Birke said that, ideally, a single Clinton voter in every state would file an identical lawsuit in order to bolster his claims.