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U.S. senator, Colorado
Bennet has run Facebook ads calling for an end to the electoral college. "The electoral college is outdated," the posts said. "Americans should directly elect our presidents."Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. senator, New Jersey
“I believe very simply that, in presidential elections, the person with the most votes should be the president of the United States,” Booker said at a CNN town hall. “But I want to tell you, for us ever to get to a point where we can address that issue, we have got to win this next election under the rules that are there now.”Candidate positions highlighted
Mayor, South Bend, Ind.
"It’s gotta go," Buttigieg told Post columnist Greg Sargent. "We need a national popular vote. It would be reassuring from the perspective of believing that we’re a democracy. But I also think it would be highly encouraging of voter participation on the national level."Candidate positions highlighted
Former mayor, San Antonio
Castro tweeted support for a variety of voting changes in March, including eliminating the electoral college.Candidate positions highlighted
Bill de Blasio
Mayor, New York City
“This is absolutely unprecedented, and I think it creates a huge question for our democracy. How is the president-elect going to proceed knowing that he had 2.3 million more people vote for his opponent,” de Blasio said in 2016, according to Politico.
Dec. 19: “Cast my Electoral College vote today. Still sick over a system that rejects the choice of a 2.8 million majority. End the E.C.!”Candidate positions highlighted
Kirsten Gillibrand (Dropped out)
U.S. senator, New York
Gillibrand is no longer running for president. Gillibrand supports eliminating the electoral college.Candidate positions highlighted
Jay Inslee (Dropped out)
Governor, Washington state
Inslee is no longer running for president. "It ought to be one person, one vote. The fastest way for this to happen is for other states to join Washington in a contract that we will vote our electoral ballots the way the popular vote goes, nationally. As soon as you get to a majority of states, you wouldn’t need a constitutional amendment."Candidate positions highlighted
Mayor, Miramar, Fla.
"It’s very rare that I will say this, but Donald Trump was correct. He once called the electoral college a ‘disaster for democracy.’ Boy, was he right," Messam told The Post. “If we believe [every vote counts], we shouldn’t have a system where a candidate can lose by three million votes and somehow be declared the winner. The electoral college forces candidates to cater to certain people in certain states. ... That doesn’t make for a good democracy, and we should do away with it and reform our elections.”Candidate positions highlighted
Seth Moulton (Dropped out)
U.S. representative, Massachusetts
Moulton is no longer running for president. “We all know the obvious reason this needs to be replaced with a popular-vote system: In 2016, approximately 3 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, and yet, Trump is the president,” Moulton wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.Candidate positions highlighted
Former U.S. representative, Texas
O'Rourke told The Post that he supports eliminating the electoral college, and in the meantime, improving it by having states award electors proportionally. "That would force whoever the Democratic and Republican nominees are to campaign everywhere, not writing anyone off or taking anyone for granted."
Mar. 19: “I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that.”Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. senator, Vermont
"I believe that it is hard to defend the current system in which one candidate receives 3 million votes less than his opponent, but still becomes president," Sanders told The Post. "Further, presidential elections cannot be fought out in just a dozen "battleground" states. I believe that we need to reexamine the concept of the electoral college." He later tweeted support for abolishing the electoral college.
Jul. 19: “Abolish the Electoral College.”Candidate positions highlighted
Eric Swalwell (Dropped out)
U.S. representative, California
Swalwell is no longer running for president. Swalwell supports abolishing the electoral college, he told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. senator, Massachusetts
"Full voting rights are key to ensuring working people across our country have a say in the direction America goes," Warren told The Post. "Every vote matters — and that’s why I have called for an end to the electoral college in favor of the national popular vote movement."Candidate positions highlighted
"Changes to the Constitution should not be taken lightly, but at this point there is too much of a risk to our democracy when the popular vote can be so easily overridden," Williamson told The Post. "Therefore, I do support the elimination of the electoral college."Candidate positions highlighted
Open to eliminating
Open to eliminating
Kamala D. Harris
U.S. senator, California
"I'm open to the discussion," Harris told Jimmy Kimmel. "I mean, there's no question that the popular vote has been diminished in terms of making the final decision about who's the president of the United States and we need to deal with that."Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. senator, Minnesota
Klobuchar is open to eliminating the electoral college, she told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. representative, Ohio
Ryan “is open to eliminating the electoral college in favor of the popular vote, but believes the focus should instead be on the issues front and center on the minds of most Americans -- which are jobs, wages, and health care,” a campaign spokesman said.Candidate positions highlighted
“No,” Bullock told The Post. “While it is troubling that in two of the last five elections the popular vote and the electoral college vote had different results, we need to focus on why Democrats aren’t winning some communities rather than scrap an institution that has been around since our nation’s founding. Even if we cobble together 271 electoral votes, we won’t be able to lead our nation forward if we aren’t including every community. The bigger issue is that we need to not just win, but govern.”Candidate positions highlighted
Former U.S. representative, Maryland
"If I was starting from scratch, yes, but trying to abolish the electoral college now is impractical," Delaney told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
John Hickenlooper (Dropped out)
Former governor, Colorado
Hickenlooper is no longer running for president. "While many of us are frustrated with the way the electoral college works ... there is no possibility of abolishing it in the near term," Hickenlooper told The Post. "So we need to focus on expanding the Democratic electorate — going into suburbs and rural areas."Candidate positions highlighted
Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania
“Maintain it for now, and could consider changing if there was due consideration of the affect this would have on representation by rural communities,” Sestak told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
"Abolishing the electoral college would be difficult and would wind up further favoring high-density high-population areas with big media markets that would be the focus of national campaigns," Yang told The Post. "It’s also a bad message to send that losing elections should be responded to by changing the rules set forward in our Constitution. That said, I do believe there are changes to be made to the way we select the president, including how electors are apportioned and implementing ranked-choice voting, that would improve our democracy."Candidate positions highlighted
Former vice president
Biden did not provide an answer to this question.Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. representative, Hawaii
Gabbard supports reforming the electoral college or exploring the Proportional Plan but doesn’t want to eliminate it, she told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
The Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential candidates have called for a number of changes to the rules of American democracy, backing plans to abolish the electoral college, eliminate the Senate filibuster and lower the voting age to 16, among other far-reaching proposals.
The push to reform U.S. democracy comes amid frustration among liberals about losing multiple presidential elections in which Democrats won the popular vote, as well as the successful effort by congressional Republicans to block President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court.
Republicans have assailed these ideas as attempts to tilt the playing field in Democrats’ favor, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling a House proposal to make Election Day a federal holiday a “power grab.” But activists have pushed these questions to the forefront of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
Where the candidates stand
Here’s where the candidates stand on changes to the rules of U.S. democracy, based on their statements, voting records and answers to a questionnaire that was sent to every campaign.
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How candidate positions were compiled
The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic campaign asking whether it supports various changes to the Senate filibuster, U.S. elections and courts. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports. See something we missed? Let us know.
We expect candidates to develop more detailed policy positions throughout the campaign, and this page will update as we learn more about their plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president or an exploratory committee. The Post will contact additional candidates as they enter the race and include them here.
Recent changes on this page
Sept. 16 Included Sanders comments on the filibuster from the third Democratic debate.
Sept. 5 Added Harris comments on eliminating the filibuster from CNN climate town hall.
Aug. 28 Gillibrand dropped out of presidential race.
Aug. 23 Moulton dropped out of presidential race.
Aug. 22 Inslee dropped out of presidential race.
Aug. 15 Hickenlooper dropped out of presidential race.
Aug. 2 Included Inslee answer on the filibuster from the second Democratic debate.
July 30 Added Sestak.
July 21 Included Sanders' support for abolishing the electoral college, following his tweet endorsing the idea.
July 8 Swalwell dropped out of presidential race.
June 21 Updated Gabbard’s position on lowering the voting age to 16 from “yes” to “open to it” based on a response from her campaign.
June 20 Updated O’Rourke’s position on packing the Supreme Court from “no” to “open to it.” Updated Gabbard’s position on eliminating the electoral college, which was previously “open to eliminating.” Added Bullock and de Blasio’s positions based on surveys returned from their campaigns. Added Gabbard’s position on packing the Supreme Court and Hickenlooper’s position on several issues.
June 17 Added Bennet's positions on Election Day holiday and Puerto Rico statehood.
June 17 Updated explanation for O'Rourke on Puerto Rico statehood.
June 11 Updated explanations for Buttigieg on voting rights and an Election Day holiday.
June 7 Added references to O'Rourke's voting rights plan, including an explanation of his Supreme Court term limit proposal.
May 14 Updated Moulton's stance on lowering the voting age, correcting an error in how he voted on an amendment. Also moved Booker to 'Open to it' on eliminating the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court based on a statement on the campaign trail.
May 9 Added Ryan positions based on survey returned from his campaign.
May 8 Added stances for four recent entrants (Bennet, Biden, Moulton and Ryan) based on public statements and legislative records.
May 6 Added Swalwell positions based on survey returned from his campaign.
April 11 Added Messam positions based on survey returned from his campaign.
April 5 Changed the following after additional information from Buttigieg's campaign: He is "open to" adding justices to the Supreme Court and supports voting rights for all formerly incarcerated people.
April 5 Adjusted Warren’s stance on the Senate filibuster after she announced that she supports eliminating it.
April 1 Updated with Klobuchar positions on the electoral college, eliminating the filibuster, statehood for Puerto Rico and voting for formerly incarcerated people.
April 1 Updated Gabbard's position on voting rights for formerly incarcerated people given additional information from her campaign.
April 1 Updated Warren's position on voting rights for previously incarcerated people after a clarification from the campaign. Also updated Williamson's position on eliminating the electoral college, a change sent from her campaign.
April 1 Page published.