Voting with the Electoral College

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Democracy. It’s a term often used in the United States when discussing politics, but do we really know what it means for the average citizen? When the Electoral College comes into play, chosen electors get to vote for the United States’ destiny. The Electoral College consists of hand-selected representatives that represent states individually, but citizens’ voices are not being heard. Excitement fills the hearts of those who have the chance to even become a candidate in the election, but those feelings could be gone in a matter of seconds. Think about it— a president who is very well-qualified could have won the votes of the people by a large majority, yet still lose the election altogether. Should the Electoral College be abolished? It does not accurately represent voters, although some could argue that it saves time and that it does in fact display the voice of the people. The Electoral College should no longer be used in determining the winner of the presidential election because of the bluntly outdated and irrelevant justifications for doing so.

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In today’s society, the Electoral College does not match up with the reasons it was placed in the Constitution. Back when it was originally in the notion, writers of the Constitution became skeptical that information would not be able to travel throughout the country— mainly due to the travel conditions in the eighteenth century (Webster). This is simply not true for today’s common person because data can be gathered with the touch of a single button. Voters are more than likely well informed about each candidate before casting their ballot. In previous times, legislation chose who could be a part of the Electoral College, inherently making it fairer compared to the way political parties choose nowadays (Ray) (Gronke). Political parties then have the option to pronounce electors that they believe will vote in favor of their own political gain, although not being the fittest for the job. If the constitution is one of the key factors in keeping the Electoral College running today, it should be followed the way it was meant to be done exactly. Contradictory to itself, the constitution also begins with the words “We the people” that suggest the systems in the United States government are in place specifically for its citizens (“Constitution of the United States”). Since the government is meant for the well-being of the people, they should have a more proper say in choosing the person that will run their country. It is undoubtedly misleading to follow the constitution in some manner without thinking about why it was done that way so long ago. In addition to the Constitutional mess created by the Electoral College, the coordinated system which it follows is illogical.

In theory, the chosen electors are responsible, trustworthy, and capable of making a conclusion that will affect their country. Even though they are in place to represent the people, there is no law requiring the votes by the Electoral College to match up with the votes of the people (“About The Electors”). If the Electoral College is allowed to vote for whomever they want, do our votes really matter? The answer is no. It is not uncommon for the members of the Electoral College to completely disregard the voice of the people. In fact, there have been four major incidents where the winner of the popular vote did not win, only due to the Electoral College. In 1876 Rutherford B. Hayes won, although losing the popular vote, as well as Benjamin Harrison in 1858, George W.Bush in 2000, and Donald Trump in 2016 (Gronke). This is a failure rate of 7 percent (“[UPDATED VERSION!] The Trouble With The Electoral College”) The United States should not be using a system in their government that does not work efficiently for such an imperative event in their country. As of today, no member of the Electoral College has faced any consequences for not voting as pledged (“About the Electors”). When the people feel as though they aren’t being heard, naturally they would stop voicing their opinion. Being 31st out of 35 countries, this becomes clear based on the voter turnouts in the United States(“About the Electors”). Furthermore, the composition and management of the Electoral College overall are inadequate for its purpose.

Even if every elector votes based on the votes of the people, the organization method of the system leaves room for the mishap. The main organizational flaw in the Electoral College is the ratio between people residing in a state to electoral representatives. An example of the unfair ratio includes Ohio only getting 18 electors when— based on the 11,500,000 people—it should have 20 (“The Trouble With The Electoral College”) Votes are weighed in an unbalanced manner because of this odd distribution of votes. Although it is slightly unlikely, the ‘winner takes all system could lead to a candidate winning the election altogether while only having won the popular vote by 22 percent (“The Trouble With The Electoral College”). This is because the ‘winner takes all’ structure only requires the contesters to get half the votes from one state to get the votes of all its electors. In hindsight, this means that only half of the electors’ votes count, almost none of the peoples’ votes count, and the people benefiting from this system are the candidates. Unlike the way candidates benefit from this, it has the opposite effect on voters. As shown by interview research, voter turnouts seem to have been declining because voting laws keep people from registering themselves to be eligible to vote (Regan). This emphasizes the idea that people do not feel as though their vote matters, so they simply stop voting. Nevertheless, some still feel that the Electoral College should be kept in place.

A popular opinion of those who believe in the Electoral College as being beneficial is that without it, candidates could focus their attention on larger populated states. This is understandable as we already know not every state gets the time needed by candidates, however, the method by which the Electoral College runs already allows for this. Due to the unfair ratio of citizens to voters, larger states are missing votes which makes it easier for candidates to wisely choose which states to focus on winning. Similarly, many have the conception that the same could happen with large cities. Although this could lead to issues, it is mathematically impossible. It is highly unlikely that someone who is running for president would want to focus on cities. Many would think that because cities like New York—the largest city in the US—have roughly 8 million residents, that candidates would want to spend their time trying to win their votes. However, if they were to do this, they would be unsuccessful because the top ten cities only make up 7.9 percent of the U.S population. Following this idea, many also think that the Electoral College is an effective barrier to protect its citizens. (“The Trouble With The Electoral College”)

Supporters of the Electoral College also fear that without it, smaller states’ needs would be completely disregarded. While this is a good point, it doesn’t consider the way candidates focus on certain states. As we know, only a few states can be prioritized by candidates in elections, and typically those candidates would not focus on smaller states anyways. Not only are smaller states’ needs concern for those who agree with the current system of voting, but their protection from larger states is also a key reason why people feel the Electoral College should stay. Many would argue that the Electoral College is meant to preserve the rights of smaller states. The Electoral College fails to do this all together, and without accomplishing that goal, it is useless. By attempting to protect smaller states, the Electoral College instead sways the value of each states’ votes. Thus, it should be abolished. (“The Trouble With The Electoral College”)

The United States should refrain from continuing to use the Electoral College as it is unfair, and the reasons behind continuing to use it are old and illogical. It is unjust for it to be possible that a candidate in the presidential election could win without having the votes of the citizens who will be affected by them. Before applauding the use of the Electoral College, people should think about what it means for them—and the future of their country.

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