The Harbinger Online

The Harbinger discusses the Importance of the Electoral College

Today, voters express frustration with the Electoral College and call for the president to be elected by a popular vote. However the Electoral College’s flaws are exaggerated and compared to alternatives it is the best system. It protects voters from various backgrounds while adhering to our founding ideals.

In 2000, Bush was the fourth president to win the electoral vote while losing the popular vote. This occurred because in some states Bush gained more votes but by a small margin. The Electoral College uses a “winner takes all approach.” For example, if 51 percent vote for one candidate and 49 percent vote for the other, all of the electoral votes for that state go to the winner. People find this frustrating because presidential candidates could potentially win the Electoral College vote, but lose the popular vote. Because of this people are calling to change our voting system to a direct popular vote.

If we were to change to a direct popular vote, the system would have two main flaws. The first is that it would allow larger states to dominate the election by their sheer massive populations. California’s population is 74 times larger than Wyoming’s population. Small states would be swallowed up because large states would vote for the candidate who would benefit their state goals, rather than the country as a whole. Ultimately candidates would then have to worry about only appealing to large populous states in order to win the elections. The Electoral College gives representation to small states while still enabling population to have an effect. Each state has the same number of electors as they have senators and representatives, giving a total of three electoral votes to even the smallest states.

The second main flaw would be that it goes against our nation’s democratic republic foundation. Our founding fathers set up the government to be a representative democracy in order to create an effective system while still giving minorities, interest groups and the American public a say. This enables us to filter three hundred million ideas into 540 representatives who then argue and defend those ideas while having a better chance of compromising and getting something done. A popular vote would contradict this ideal by enabling citizens to directly elect the president. This would not only give power to certain regions but also could lead to results prolonged for weeks as all votes are counted, especially if a recount is called.

Others argue that the Electoral College highlights a few states known as “swing states.” Candidates focus their efforts in these states because in these states electoral votes are undecided. However if we were to switch to a popular vote, the preferred candidate in a state would probably not change. In this past election, only two districts in Kansas voted for the democratic candidate meaning that the majority in Kansas still voted Republican. If we were to switch to a popular vote, the states with large populations would become the new bombarded states. Either way, people are unhappy.

If we were to try and replace the Electoral College, it would be highly unlikely that the amendment would be passed because it would need a two-thirds vote from both the houses and would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures. The Electoral College may cause frustration to some, but in reality it has proved successful for over 200 years. Americans have exercised their right to vote and presidents have successfully been inaugurated. It maintains our representative democracy and gives small states an influence.

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Sami Walter

Sami is a senior at East and the Online Co-Editor in Chief. She enjoys cuddling with cats, giggling with Vanessa Daves and eating grilled cheese sandwiches. Read Full »

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