An American citizen is 1.6 times more likely to want the electoral college to be abolished than to want to keep it.1 However, most of these same citizens only learned about and disapproved of the electoral college after George W. Bush and Donald Trump won their presidencies despite losing the popular vote.13 This phenomenon is not new.
The electoral college has been attacked numerous times since its inception over 200 years ago following the swearing-in of presidents who won the electoral college vote but not the popular vote. Critics of the electoral college often describe it as undemocratic; a system in which a minority can defeat a majority.7 However, the actual definition of democracy is: “A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.”8 The electoral college, in which elected representatives vote for the president, is the true embodiment of a democratic system and should endure. It operates as part of a system of checks and balances between small and large states, ensures that there is countrywide support for effective presidencies, and ensures that election results are decisive, quick, and clear. The electoral college is one of a series of a checks and balances created to keep one party or person from gaining absolute control over the United States. Its role is to act as a balancing mechanism between the power of the larger and smaller states.
The electoral college prevents more populous states from monopolizing the time and attention of candidates and forces candidates to pay attention to the breadth of views from people all across the country. This is important because federalism relies on the compliance and cooperation of all of the territories and substates which exist within the major state. In the United States, this translates to every states’ ability to contribute their input to the government. If the vote was based purely upon population numbers, the candidates would pander to a few large populous states and ignore the needs and opinions of voters in smaller states altogether. This would violate the rights of citizens of the smaller states. The electoral college also supplies the ability for candidates to appeal to broader parts of the country.10 For example, if a candidate has strong control of traditionally democratic states, such as those on the west coast, they can then focus on and visit other parts of the country to widen their appeal to include more states. This results in a broader appeal will result in a more effective presidency while ensuring all voices of the populace are heard.
For a president to effectively function, the winner of a presidential race must be clearly drawn so that the country can rally behind a single leader. If the electoral college was abolished and a candidate were to win by a minute amount, there would be nationwide recounts. This would leave the country in a perilous cycle of uncertainty until either the votes were clearly in one candidate’s favor or the House of Representatives overruled the vote.2 The electoral college is one of the few voting methods, which is both truly democratic and can glean a decisive victor in a timely manner. The popular vote system on its own would be hazardous and allow the potential for chaos.A main argument against the electoral college is the tendency to make certain voters feel useless and unimportant.11 One often-cited statistic is the ratio of voting power of a Wyoming citizen to a California citizen, which is 3.
6.3 At first glance, this seems like a fatal flaw of the electoral college. However, Wyoming has only 3 electoral college votes while California has 55.4 This means a California voter is taking part in influencing over 10% of the total electoral college vote in comparison to a Wyoming voter who is influencing just under 0.6%. This sharp contrast would result in California being targeted for ads and candidate representation.
Areas targeted for candidate representation not only have more influence on policy if that candidate wins but also get more “face time”, which can give voters deeper insights into how a candidate thinks and acts.The smaller states, many of which are part of the midwestern region, serve as a cornerstone of our country due to the goods and services they provide. The midwestern region is considered the “breadbasket” of the United States with major crops including corn, wheat, soybeans, oats, and barley.5 These Agricultural goods are necessities, and during global shortages or wartime, these necessary goods can be harder to import creating a dependency on these midwestern states.
In most states, the population is dominated by a single party, but in some states the votes are split between parties resulting in “swing states”. Fortunately, some midwestern states such as Idaho, ohio, and Wisconsin are swing states, further incentivising candidates to take the opinions and needs of these states seriously and further securing agricultural resources for the country as a whole.6 A strong federation and secure presidency are largely the product of the electoral college. Despite the occasional hiccup, the electoral college consistently produces a clear victor for hundreds of millions of voters resulting in stability and firm leadership. The electoral college has been under attack for 200 years and yet it stands strong and untouched.12 For our government and nation to continue with the same strength and predictability it has for centuries, we should keep one of our country’s strongest foundations, the electoral college.
EndnoteSources1 1.6 times as many that want to keep electoral college want to abolish it:https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/24/13731770/electoral-college-poll2 House of Representatives overrule vote: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/thomas-jefferson-aaron-burr-and-the-election-of-1800-131082359/3 3.6 ratio of voting power from Wyoming to California: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-petrocelli/its-time-to-end-the-electoral-college_b_12891764.html4 Electoral College representatives by state:https://state.1keydata.com/state-electoral-votes.php5 Midwest is breadbasket: https://www.reference.com/geography/midwest-called-breadbasket-d8ded9b24312dff76 Recent swing states:https://www.nytimes.com/elections/2012/electoral-map.html7 Critics call electoral college undemocratic: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/diaz/article/The-case-against-the-Electoral-College-10624530.php8 Democracy definition:https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/democracy9 Electoral college is part of the checks and balances: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/19/opinion/the-case-for-the-electoral-college.html10 Electoral college allow candidates to appeal to more of the country as a whole:http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/19/opinion/the-case-for-the-electoral-college.html11 Critics say electoral college discriminates against certain voters disempowering them:http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/diaz/article/The-case-against-the-Electoral-College-10624530.php12 Electoral college has been attacked for 200 years:http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/19/opinion/the-case-for-the-electoral-college.html13 Voters protest electoral college vocally only after electoral vote and popular vote disagree:http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/19/opinion/the-case-for-the-electoral-college.html