Abolish the Electoral College

The+results+of+the+2016+electoral+college+vote.+Seven+electors+did+not+vote+for+the+winner+of+their+state.+Image+courtesy+of+Creative+Commons.

The results of the 2016 electoral college vote. Seven electors did not vote for the winner of their state. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

On the night of November 3rd, 2020, Americans were glued to their TVs, waiting to see who would become the next President of Pennsylvania and Arizona. 

 

At least that’s what you would think, given the outdated system that places importance on only a handful of states.

 

While the popular vote winner didn’t differ from the actual winner this election, it is high time we abolish the electoral college. It is completely undemocratic, and the arguments in support of it are flawed.

 

Supporters of the electoral college say that it was created by our founding fathers as a democratic system to bring better representation to rural, less populous states. This is false.

 

Firstly, the electoral college was not created to be ‘fair’. 

 

According to The Atlantic, the framers of the constitution griped openly that a popular vote system would ‘result in too much democracy’. 

 

Yes, it may be a tough pill to swallow that our founding fathers were not freedom-loving saints, but just as they continued the oppression of thousands of slaves, they were not fully keen on poor white people having political power either.

 

Southern delegates had another concern. They feared that their less populous states would never have a say, and thus a popularly elected president would not act in their best interest. Which, to clarify, was the best interest of plantation owners, not your average Southerner. 

Members of the Electoral College meet in 2012 to cast their votes. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

As the Constitution needed to be approved by the representatives of all 13 colonies, the electoral college had to be created to satisfy the South, and so it was enshrined in our country’s founding document.

 

The electoral college, of course, does not represent the will of the many.

 

Those magic numbers on an electoral map aren’t just numbers – they’re people. They are electors: politically involved people who gather to vote for the President every four years in December.

 

The electoral college was created so that those 538 people (the number was smaller two hundred years ago) could vote for the President, and they can vote for whoever they want!

 

The ‘faithless elector’ phenomenon, where electors vote for who they want, rather than the winner of their state, is rather rare nowadays. Many states have made it mandatory for their electors to vote for the state’s popular vote winner.

 

Still, in 2016, seven electors voted for candidates that did not win their state.

 

This was exactly the intention of the electoral college – letting the electors decide our president, instead of the common American. 

 

After all, the well-educated, superior electors need to have the power to overrule the will of the people if they deem it wrong.

 

Aside from the undemocratic concept of electors, the balance of power in the electoral college is not at all ‘fair’.

 

Its supporters say that the electoral college brings more of a voice to smaller states, thus preventing the coastal metropolises from having too much power.

 

If this were true, it would still be nonsensical. There is nothing fair about Wyomingites having as much say in the election as Californians, since California has millions of more people.

 

But it’s not true.

 

Wyoming has 3 electoral votes, California has 58. States are awarded electoral votes more or less proportionally to their population. 

 

Texas still has more say in the electoral college than Vermont, as it should.

The only Republican to win the popular vote in the past three decades was Bush in 2004. Thus, abolishing the electoral college has become a partisan issue. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

The actual problem with the electoral college, which causes discrepancies in results, is the winner-take-all aspect of it.

 

If a candidate wins a state, no matter how small the margin of victory, they are awarded all of the state’s electoral votes.

 

The reason Hillary Clinton won more votes in 2016, but lost the electoral college, is not because of the mythical leverage the electoral college gave the righteous people of Montana over the dirty New York elites.

 

It is because Donald Trump won all 46 of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, despite winning those three states by an average margin of 0.57%!

 

If states allocated their electoral votes proportionally, Hillary Clinton would have gotten about 20 electoral votes from these states, in which she statistically tied. 

 

Instead, she came out empty-handed.

 

This is exactly the problem with the electoral college. 

 

It is not fair, because regardless of your ideology, regardless of the area you live in – rural or urban – your vote will not count if you are not in your state’s plurality.

 

In 2020, the 5.2 million Texans who voted for Biden, and the 6 million Californians who voted for Trump, were completely shut out from having a say in the election, because 100% of the electoral votes which represent them went to the opposing candidate.

 

We must abolish the electoral college so that every single American’s vote counts.