What is the Electoral College?
It’s election day! After spending a lot of time thoroughly researching each candidate, you go to your polling station to vote. After all the votes are counted, the candidate you voted for won the popular vote. But you are disappointed to find out that she still lost the election. This is exactly what happened in the most recent presidential election. Although Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 3 million votes, Donald Trump still won the election. How can that be? Does the popular vote matter? The answer is found in an institution that has existed in the United States for many years. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. Each elector castes his or her ballot based on the outcome of the popular vote in his or her district. A voting district is an geographical area that is comprised of a certain number of voters. Whomever receives the majority of Electoral College votes, becomes the President of the United States. This (arcane) outdated institution should be abolished because it does not represent the will of the people and Electoral College electors are not required to faithfully represent the outcome of their districts.
Electors in the Electoral College are supposed to represent their districts, but what happens when they don’t follow the popular vote? According to The Los Angeles Times, in the 240 years of the electoral college, there have been 157 faithless electors (Agrawal, Nina). A faithless elector is a member of the Electoral College who votes against his or her party or who votes differently from the majority of the district he or she is appointed to represent. Faithless electors could potentially change the outcome of the presidential election. The Electoral College was created to represent the popular vote without allowing the election results to be swayed by uneducated and uninformed voters. But electors who are faithless do not represent the popular vote, rather just their personal opinion.
If too many faithless electors are misrepresent the popular vote of their districts, then the outcome of the election can change. The Electoral College is an imperfect system, and electors should not be allowed to misrepresent the votes of the populous. In order to become president a candidate need to secure a minimum of 270 votes. With 538 Electoral College votes up for grabs, in a close election, one faithless elector could swing the election and place the outcome firmly in Congress’s grasp (V.v.B, 2016). Historically, although there have been faithless electors, there have never been enough in a single election to change the outcome. For example, in the 2016 election, although there were eight faithless electors, two voted for Trump, one was replaced and the other five voted for Clinton – with Trump’s 36 elector majority, eight votes could not make a difference (Boccagno, 2016). In fact, according to an article in the New York Times, “faithless electors have never affected the final result of any presidential election” (Bromwich, 2016). So if faithless electors are not impacting election outcomes, they should not be used a reason to abolish the electoral college.
The Electoral College ignores the will of the people. There are millions of people in the United States, but only 538 really vote for the U.S. President. According to the Pew Research Center, in 5 times in 57 elections, the Electoral College vote has not represented the will of the people (or say the Electoral College voted against the popular vote), that is more than 8% (Desilver, 2016). It happened in the years of 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016. One can infer from this that this result will likely happen again. The Electoral College should be abolished because it is undemocratic and ignores the will of the people. Add more commentary
By appointing members to the Electoral College that are a direct reflection of the political makeup of the district, you are appointing one person who represents the political majority of the district. According to The National Archives, “the voters in each state select their state’s Electors by casting their ballots for President”(N/A, N/A). When choosing the electors the political parties in each state choose slates of potential electors sometime before the general election. Then on Election Day, the voters in each state select their state’s electors by casting their ballots for President. So a vote for President is really a vote for a party who then chooses the elector, which means that there is no direct popular vote for U.S. President. If the people are choosing the electors, isn’t that reflecting the will of the people.
The Electoral College should be abolished. It ignores the will of the people and the electors don’t vote for who they are supposed to vote for. The Electoral College isn’t perfect, but a possible solution is to use a method that is currently being used in two states. In the District of Columbia and 48 states there is a winner-takes-all method. The winner-takes-all method is that whichever candidate wins the majority of the popular votes takes all of the state’s electoral votes. But in Maine and Nebraska they use a alternate method to distribute their electoral college votes, it’s called the ‘congressional district method’. This will help the voting system, while still having the electoral college it will no longer ignore the will of the nation and represent everyone equally. This is your vote; and your vote should count.