Since its inception, the Electoral College has been a hotly debated concept in American politics.
There are many facets to this debate, such as the issue of indirect versus direct elections. We elect our House representatives directly. We elect our senators directly. Why not the President?
Well, it’s hard to say why that’s how it is in America. But it is. And no one’s had the guts to try to change it.
This is why I believe we should just get rid of it.
One of my biggest gripes about American society is that so few know what the Electoral college is and does. In essence, electors from all states convene following the counting of votes in each general election. The number of electors for each state matches the number of representatives plus senators, so each state is guaranteed at least 3 votes. Add up all the states (and the District of Columbia!) and we get 538 total electoral votes, or 270 needed to win. That’s why you’ll hear the numbers 538 and 270 so much as we inch closer to the election.
The Electoral College in the United States is a great example of indirect election. I like to define indirect election as “based on the people’s wishes—but not quite.” The electors from each state will all (usually) vote for the winner of the popular vote in that state, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska (who sometimes split their electoral votes). Because the more populous states have more weight in the House of Representatives, and that number factors in to the number of electors for each state—that means that some states have a huge amount of power in the Electoral College. Take California for example, America’s most populous state. It has 55 electoral votes, which comes out to 20.37% of what’s needed to win the presidency.
So, is this an equality issue? Do some votes technically count more than others? You bet!
Next up: the electoral stumbles. We’ve all heard of what happened in 2000 (and I’ve mentioned the possibility of it occurring once again this year). However, have there been other Electoral College “failures” in the past? Yes, twice before— in 1876 and 1888. The people voted for one ticket, but got another.
I personally believe this year’s election will be won by either candidate in both the popular vote and the Electoral College, but there is an underlying problem here. These three failures could repeat themselves, because we know history does tend to repeat itself in many different ways.
This gives some food for thought: Should the Electoral College continue to institutionalize indirect presidential elections in the United States? Even though it allows the loser of the popular vote to come into the presidency? What about its occasional massive distortions of the popular vote? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.