Column: The Electoral College doesn’t represent today’s America

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(Drawn by Byron Thompson)

Donald Trump won the election Tuesday evening with at least 290 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 228. Without the Electoral College, though, Clinton would have won with nearly 400,000 more direct votes from the American people than Trump.

If you’re a Trump supporter, this may seem like an issue that does not affect you. But Ben Carson, a prospective member of Trump’s cabinet and former 2016 republican presidential candidate, told Fox News earlier this year the current election system “disregards the will of the people.” In 2012, Trump himself tweeted, “The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.” Trump will never have the satisfaction of a mandate considering the majority of American voters simply did not vote for him.

The Electoral College was created circa 1787 to reconcile differing state and federal interests, provide a degree of popular participation in the election, give less populous states additional leverage and overall insulate the election process from political manipulation.

The aforementioned reasons ruled out presidential election by Congress, state governors, state legislatures, a special group of Members of Congress and direct popular vote. Popular vote was nixed in order to benefit states with smaller populations due to the nation’s agrarian economy — farmers were given more power due to national reliance on their goods. Currently in the Information Age, in which our economy is based on information computerization, your Texas vote is five times less effective than a vote cast in Wyoming.

Let me repeat that: your vote is not equal to your fellow American’s vote. There are more than 200,000 registered Wyoming voters and more than 14 million registered Texas voters. It takes 374,695 direct Texan votes to make one electoral vote, while it only takes 70,155 Wyomingite votes to make one electoral vote. That means it takes about five Texan votes to equal one from Wyoming.

We need to fix the system. It no longer supports a fair democracy and favors the ideas and beliefs of a select few. It allows for winner-take-all distribution among 48 states and the District of Columbia, meaning whoever gets the majority or plurality of votes gets all the electoral votes for that state as opposed to dividing them proportionately.  

For those who feel the urge to cry, “What you’re saying is unconstitutional!” as is common when somebody implies the Founding Fathers and the Constitution could use an update, remember we have amended the Constitution before in order to include all Americans in the voting process. This would be no different. 

“As the republic evolved, so did the electoral college system.”

The republic continues to evolve today, yet the last time our Constitution was amended was in 1992 to address how members of Congress were paid. Our individual voices matter more than the salary of our representatives, yet here we are more than two decades later feeling as though our votes don’t matter.

Our votes do matter though. Just some more than others. If we rid ourselves of the Electoral College, nobody would be able to say their vote doesn’t change anything. Maybe the 50 percent of eligible voters that didn’t vote would have casted a ballot.

Grassroots movements and third parties would be empowered and we could finally buck the two-party blockade system. Presidential campaigns would be forced to try and appeal to all of the states as opposed to only a dozen swing states.

“More than three quarters of the people of the United States are politically irrelevant in general election campaigns for president,” said John Koza, chair for the National Popular Vote, an effort to allow the popular vote to decide our presidential future without changing the Constitution.

The 27th Amendment, the aforementioned amendment passed in 1992, was first proposed in 1789. It is considered to have taken the longest to ratify of all the amendments. The 22nd Amendment is considered the second-longest duration with four years from proposal to passing.

As the National Popular Vote is already gaining traction, it seems to be the best option as far as making the popular vote matter. The National Popular Vote bill ironically needs to receive 270 electoral votes to be activated. It currently has 165 electoral votes from 11 jurisdictions.

Those who wish to take this route in order to have their vote equal that of their fellow Americans should write their legislator and ask for their support in the National Popular Vote.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The electoral college system is part of being a Constitutional republic as opposed to a direct democracy. It attempts to make the playing field more level by protecting against tyranny of the majority who, in this case, is comprised of those who live in large metropolitan areas. The interests of those living in Wyoming, for instance, are vastly different than those living in Los Angeles, Chicago, or Detroit. There is no mention of farmers in the Constitution, just as there is no mention of muskets. But, for those that think like you do, there are legal avenues to amend the Constitution. Have at it.

  2. The United States is NOT a democracy. It is a Constitutional Republic. The College is there to make sure that the Urban populations do not rule over the rural populations with an iron fist. Even the founding fathers knew that you cannot trust a pure democracy. If people want a different outcome from the Electoral College, move to the country.

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