Every year on the fourth November millions of americans run to the polls to cast their vote for president. They’re voting for presidential electors, these electors are known as the electoral college. it works by having each state with a number of electors directly related to the state’s population.
At the top is California with 55 electoral votes, while some smaller states and the district of columbia have only 3. There are 538 total electors but two states (Nebraska and Maine), all of a state’s electoral votes are given to the candidate with the most votes in that particular state. To earn the seat in the oval office candidates need 270 electoral votes (half of the total plus one). Unfortunately it does not work as good as it sounds, sometimes the candidate who wins the popular vote doesn’t always win the election, it’s also possible for neither candidate to reach 270 votes, furthermore electors are a mystery to the average american.
The electoral college needs to be abolished because it gives too much power to small states, it does not properly represent the democratic system, and discourages the public leading to less people voting in the election. . During the constitutional convention of 1787 delegates met to draw up the new framework of our government, many crucial processes were established during this time. Among the most important, was the way we choose our president. There were three major plans, the Virginia plan which favored large states, the New Jersey plan which favored small states, and the Connecticut plan which was a compromise between the two. Upon much debate the delegates pushed the issue onto the Committee of Eleven on Postponed Matters, who came up with the electoral college in its original form. This plan was well liked by delegates and was fast-tracked onto the constitution with only slight changes. There was still the matter of slaves, more specifically how the population of slaves would be counted, and how that population would be represented.
The delegates settled on the infamous three-fifths compromise which deemed slaves to be counted as only a fraction of a person and should be counted as property while assessing taxes. This is significant because it tilted the scales in the favor of regions with higher populations of slaves i.e., the south.The electoral system misrepresents the public in more ways than one, it was chosen in part because it’s supposed to tighten the gap between the representation of large states and small states. When you break it down you’ll find that states with large numbers of electoral votes are actually grossly underrepresented.
People small states with a very low number of electoral votes have greater voting power than others. The population of wyoming is roughly 585,000 and, with three electoral votes that means that one elector represents about 195,000 people. California on the other hand has around 39,250,000 people and only 55 votes, which means one elector represents over 700,000 people. The disparity in voting power is 3.
6 to 1, that means a vote in wyoming is 3.6x more powerful than a vote in california. Your vote should count the same as everyone else’s regardless of where you live.
The electoral system distorts voting power is such a way that “rewards” people in areas with smaller populations, and simultaneously suppresses those who live in heavily populated areas.Voter turnout has been on the decrease for years now. More and more the public is staying away from the polls, especially in states where the political scene isn’t particularly competitive, these are called “safe states.”A lot of americans have lost faith in our election system, there is a vast community of people who feel as if their vote doesn’t count. in safe states, what incentives are there for voters affiliated with different parties to come out and vote. Who they vote for doesn’t matter because the “winner take all” approach makes it so that same party is going to win election after election. Having safe states already in the bag candidates only need to focus on a small number of “swing states,” leaving leagues of voters feeling ignored. Between voters in safe states and voters in heavily populated states there are millions of disenfranchised americans who don’t even bother hitting the polls anymore.
One of the main defenses of the electoral college is that the electors “filter the passions of the people” and that that may have been true 229 years ago, today things are different. Electors are hardly independent, and they haven’t been since the 1820’s. Electors are chosen by party leaders due to their party loyalty, in fact there have only been nine electors electors to defy their parties in the past 25 years, seven of which coming in 2016, there are even laws in many states that require electors to keep their pledges.
Another common reason to keep the current system is that electors are more educated than your average american, and sure it made sense in 1787, but nowadays this line of thinking is simply archaic. There is a wealth of information available on the internet for those willing to look, and for those unwilling to look the information is thrust down their throat via the plentiful ads candidates run on the campaign trail. No, the united states is not a direct democracy but the outcome of the election should always reflect what the majority of people want; that is the point, right? It’s quite easy to see that the electoral college isn’t right anymore. There is questionable racial political implementations, constant voter misrepresentation, and it somehow manages to actively drive voters away from the polls.
Well then, why do we still use it today? Simply put, no one has any better ideas. Many of the proposed replacements are the very same ones delegates looked at during the first constitutional convention, and many deal with the same problems. The electoral college isn’t working, and let’s face it; it’s probably not going anywhere. The best we can hope for is electoral reform, popular suggestions include direct election with instant runoff voting, proportional allocation of electoral votes, direct vote with plurality rule, the congressional district method, and a national bonus plan. I recognize that the electoral college was never a masterpiece but a compromise, and along with anything else, has flaws.
I also understand that our government is a bureaucracy and it takes an eternity for things to get done, but the electoral college has been a problem for many years, it’s time for something new. There are many petitions online both for abolishing the electoral college and for reforming it, some with over 500,000 signatures. Join the hundreds of thousands of americans ready to finally throw out the relic we call the electoral college.