The Electoral College Should Stay

By Emma Borden
Emma Borden
The Electoral College, a key part of presidential elections, is a topic frequently debated, especially after controversial elections. However, it is an important part of U.S. history, and should not be eradicated.
The Electoral College was created as a compromise meant to satisfy those who wanted a direct popular vote for president and others who wanted Congress to appoint the president. The popular vote was discouraged because of the fear that the masses would not be educated enough to elect a president that would benefit society. Being selected by Congress directly meant the people would have no representation in the decision making. In order to solve both problems, the Electoral College was formed.

The Electoral College is a body of 538 electors who play a role in the election of president and vice president of the United States. Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of their senators and representatives combined. According to the “National Archives and Records Administration,” the District of Columbia is also given three electoral votes.

The Electoral College has been in place since 1787 and has been used in every presidential election. Removing it entails a long and difficult process, first two-thirds of the House of Representatives and Senate must vote to remove the Electoral College, then three-fourths or thirty-nine of the fifty states must ratify the change. Though extensive, the removal process is possible, however the Electoral College exists as a protection for smaller states, taking it away would eradicate all the benefits provided over a direct popular vote.

In a direct popular vote, every vote made by citizens is counted in order to determine the winner. Whichever candidate receives the majority of votes, gets the position. With the Electoral College, electors votes as representatives for their state. The candidate that wins the popular vote in a state receives the all of the electoral votes of that state in the winner-takes-all system.

The risk of electors not voting for their state’s more popular candidate is an argument commonly used to oppose the Electoral College. It is true that there have been “faithless” electors, but rarely do the electors vote for someone other than their state’s chosen candidate.
Only five times in the history of presidential elections has the Electoral College been the reason that the candidate was elected. Since 1888, there have been two instances: Bush v. Gore and Trump v. Clinton.

Supporters of Hillary Clinton have been upset recently about Trump’s victory, seeing as Clinton won the nation’s popular vote but Trump won the Electoral College. However, Clinton did well in states like New York and California that have high populations, but did poorly across the nation, winning her the popular vote but not enough electoral votes.

The truth of the matter is that every presidential candidate knows the rules on how to be elected president, and Trump just played them better. Hillary Clinton did not visit many of the smaller states that Trump did, tipping the scale in his favor. In fact, she only won twenty states.
An argument for keeping the Electoral College is that candidates have to be able to win across the board in order to win the election as a whole. It’s impossible for a candidate to get support only from one region and still win. In a popular vote, more populous regions would control elections and candidates would only have to cater to specific regions.

“Presidential candidates have to diversify [their] messages to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters,” said Loy Norrix government teacher Michael Wright.

Not only does the Electoral College keep regions protected, but also individual states. If the U.S. were to rely on the popular vote, very large states would have their voices heard, but the opinions of smaller states would be completely overshadowed. With the Electoral College, small states such as Wyoming still have a voice.

“As a country, we have been taught that majority rule is a good thing. [It] is not a good thing. The Electoral College ensures safe guards against it,” Wright continued, “The president would represent the people who live in large urban areas and would ignore rural and suburban areas.”

Other, more minor reasons for keeping the Electoral College, are that there is less a chance of miscounting votes in the Electoral College compared to the national popular election. For example, in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, there was an issue counting the votes due to “hanging chads” and “pregnant chads” (which refers to a sort of issue with paper and holes on a punch card) along with other issues in counting the votes. This was important to the election because the Florida votes were needed to determine the winner of the election: George W. Bush or Al Gore. That would be much more of an issue if every vote had to be counted meticulously on a national level for each election.

However, if there were to be any changes made to the Electoral College or just alternatives to it, there are several that have been invented (The Center for Voting and Democracy. For example, instant runoff voting where voters rank the candidates multiple times until one candidate gets the majority of votes. The issue with this solution is time. Voters would have to keep voting until there is a majority, which could cause a time strain. Another option is proportional allocation, which would eliminate the winner-takes-all system. The problem with this is proportionality. Take Wyoming which has 3 Electoral College votes. Say one candidate receives 51 percent of the votes and another 49 percent. There is no one-half of a vote. Again with 75 to 25 percent; there is no quarter-vote. There is also the congressional district method, in which votes are counted by district with a bonus of two extra Electoral votes for the winner of the popular vote. Gerrymandering, or changing district boundaries to help a party get more votes, is already a big issue. With this system, there is even more chance of that causing trouble in an election. Somewhat similar to the congressional district method is the national bonus plan, which gives an extra amount of votes to the winner of the popular vote (suggested number is 102). However, this doesn’t necessarily ensure the win. In most cases, yes, the 102 would make the popular vote winner finish first in both places, but not in all (The Center for Voting and Democracy). Of course, there is always the direct popular vote, which has been argued already.

All of the little states involved in an election matter just as much as any big state. This balance of power makes sure that all ideas and opinions are heard from all parts of the United States.