The Electoral College and the Development of American Democracy

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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The electoral college was created in 1787, by the framers who composed the U.S. Constitution. The electoral college system was established in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, it was built to fix the presidential election process. The politicians decided that basing a vote purely on popularity was careless and allowed for areas with a high population, that were familiar with their presidential candidates to have too much voting power. (Bonsor, Kevin, and Dove, 1-6). Therefore, they needed a system to level the playing field.

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However, there is controversy based on if the electoral college system is fair and if it allows the people of the United States a voice.

According to Article II of the Constitution, the Electoral College is a system composed of 538 electors. Which involve 100 senators, 435 representatives, and 3 electors given to the District of Columbia. Allow me to illustrate the process of voting that we may be familiar with. Every four years, the polls open and we go to select a candidate for our next president and vice president our vote being the popular vote. In previous elections, we also vote for our senators and representatives, who then also vote for our president and vice president their vote being the electoral vote. Each state has a select number of electors based on its population. The candidate that receives the (270), being the majority of electoral votes, wins the election. However, in two states, Nebraska and Maine, where according to Huffington Post, “electoral votes are assigned by proportional representation, meaning that the top vote-getter in those states wins two electoral votes (for the two Senators) while the remaining electoral votes are allocated congressional district by congressional district “(Soni,1-2). All of this being accounted for we have our election.

However, this process was not always like this. Before the 12th Amendment, the candidates did not run together, the electors would vote and the candidate with the most votes would win the presidency. Then, the candidate that received the second to most votes would win the vice presidency. This worked for the first two elections, however, the issue of this system was soon revealed in 1786 and 1800. In 1786, two candidates from different parties won, president John Adams with the Federalist party and Vice President Thomas Jefferson with the democratic- republican party. Them being in the office together did not create a cohesive environment. In the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr both in the Democratic-Republican party received the same number of votes. The House of Representatives had to step in and vote 36 times due to the strong political party conflict. Finally, Thomas Jefferson came out on top. The 12-amendment fixed current issues and future issues with the presidential election we have today. However, is our election process the best it can be?

Is this a democracy? According to the Merriam Webster, democracy is defined as, “A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”. If the supreme power were truly vested in the people, why would there be two separate elections? One being the popular election and the other being the electoral election and why would the one that does not represent the people supersede the other. The electoral college system simply represents “the smoke in mirrors” democracy that our country has led us to believe is our voice represented through a vote. It should be demolished because it goes against what America has led us to believe. That we have a voice and our votes can shape our communities, our country, and our futures. when in fact they are being shaped by only 538 people.

The election of 2016, Hillary Clinton democratic party and Donald Trump Republican party, shows that we as a people have no voice due to the electoral college. Hillary Clinton of the democratic party won by three million popular votes (Which represents all the citizens of the United States of America who voted in the election.) However, she still did not win the election. “While electors pledge to vote for their party’s candidate, they are not legally bound to do so. Some electors ? known as “faithless electors” ? have voted against their political party or abstained from voting altogether. Enough of these faithless electors could effectively swing the outcome of the election ? but this has never happened before”(Miller, 3). Now how can we have a voice in this country as a people when the voice of the majority can be silenced by the minority. The same minority that is supposed to represent us that clearly do not.

Inform, inform, inform, in order to engage the political process of impacting change or removal of the electoral college I would inform my peers about our true rights and responsibilities in our political system and show up and encourage others to show up to town hall meetings, where we can speak up about our issues on our voting system. Also, I would take it upon myself to be more of an informed voter because the only way to go about change is to try to ensure that the correct people are voted into the positions of power. Learning more about who my senators and representatives are will allow me to make good voting decisions and help to bring about change in the electoral college. This could be a small step forward to the journey to the removal of the electoral college. Because I want what America promised me a TRUE DEMOCRACY!

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The Electoral College and the Development of American Democracy. (2020, May 02). Retrieved from