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Diana Cuevas

H Communications 105

Professor Miller

April 13, 2017

The Electoral College Should Be Amended

The Electoral College is a contentious and confusing element of our democratic system in

the United States. This contention as well as confusion has intensified amidst the most recent

presidential election in which Donald Trump lost the popular vote and still won the presidency

via the electoral vote. Now, for the sake of the argument, it is important to note that in the

resolution, the word amend signifies a major reform or even complete removal of the Electoral

College in the United States to make it more impartial, precise, and up-to-date. The Founding

Fathers of the Constitution set the Electoral College in place centuries ago in order to establish a

check on the passionate populace from singlehandedly electing an unfit candidate; thus, giving

educated electors a chance to weigh in on the decision. Since its founding, the United States

has prided itself in being the leader and advocate of democratic institutions within its own

borders, as well as overseas. But the nature of the Electoral College promotes the opposite of

what the foundation of democracy offers, which is majority rule. In other words, the Electoral

College should be amended because not only is it undemocratic, but it gives more clout to swing

states over safe states, thus suppressing voter turnout/confidence and delegitimizing the

democratic process.

The Constitution outlines the Founding Fathers federalist plan for the United States in

which state and federal governments work together to achieve a more equal distribution of

power. This proved to be tricky, especially during the time of slavery when Southern states were
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mostly populated by slaves, who were considered to less than human (three-fifths, to be exact)

and could not vote. Therefore, as Amar states in a Los Angeles Times article, in a direct-election

system, the South would have lost every timeThe Electoral College enabled each slave state to

count its slavesin the Electoral College apportionment. Since slavery has been abolished for

quite some time now, it is clear how outdated the Electoral College has become and sets the

precedent for major reform.

Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution discusses the logistics of the Electoral College

and the requirements of being an elector. To summarize this section of the Constitution, electors

must be elected via popular vote and cannot be already holding office. However, electors are

rarely chosen by the people; rather, they are chosen by state legislatures, typically members of

their political party. Not only that, but [the] Electoral College insulates the election of the

President from the people by having the people elect not the person of the President, but the

person of an Elector who is pledged to vote for a specific person for President (Mount). In other

words, we did not vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in November we voted for an

Elector who is expected, but not required, to vote for the same party as the candidate we thought

we voted for. Many voters are unaware of this mechanism, let alone who these electors are! The

Presidential election, arguably the most important election, is the only one in the United States

that requires an Electoral College, despite its evident ambiguity and lack of transparency.

Furthermore, who is to say that the members of the Electoral College are more qualified

than the average citizen to choose the next president? Members of Congress and electors are all

out-of-touch with the reality that their constituents face. They make decisions that we have to

deal with on a much different level than they do: only we, average citizens, know what is best for

us not an elector who we unlikely elected and whose name we do not know.
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Now, each state is given a different number of electoral votes, similar to how senators and

representatives are distributed amongst states. There is a total of 538 Electoral College votes and

270 are needed to win the presidency. The census determines how many electoral votes each

states gets. Larger states tend to be given more votes, typically due to their large population

sizes. For example, California is allowed 55 electoral votes. If a candidate wins California, they

get all 55 electoral votes and the losing candidate gets nothing: making large states critical for a

candidates success. There are twelve states that candidates devote most of their time to:

California, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Ohio, New York, Michigan, New

Jersey, North Carolina, and Georgia. As Senator Barbara Boxer says in Supreme Court Debates,

94 percent of campaigning by the presidential candidates in 2016 took place in 12 States. That

was it. Two-thirds of these general election campaign events took place in six States (21).

According to FairVote, in 2008, on average a state is awarded one electoral vote for every

565,166 people. However, Wyoming has three electoral votes and only 532,668 citizensthese

people have 3.18 times as much clout in the Electoral College as an average American.

Politicians are constantly reminding the public to get out and vote because every vote counts, but

the Electoral College gives states the same number of votes irrespective to voter turnout. This

creates disparity in the amount of influence each individual vote has and delegitimizes the most

significant democratic process in the United States and arguably in the world.

The situation worsens when swing states, like Florida and Ohio, are given the most

attention because it is hard to predict which party they will vote for. Therefore, voters that live in

swing states tend to feel that their votes truly count and can impact the outcome of the election

(because they do), thus creating the incentive for all voters of all parties in those states get out

and vote. On the other hand, those living in safe states, or states than tend to vote for the same
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party every election cycle, are led to believe that the fate of their vote has already been decided.

Because of this unfairness, voter turnout is suppressed in safe states, like California, Oregon, and

Massachusetts, because people are told that their electors will vote Democrat regardless of how

they voted. Boxer continues, we have a 58-percent voter turnout. It is altogether ridiculous.

Political science experts agree that too many Americans feel their vote doesnt count (23). This

poses a serious question: what is the point of democracy if the people do not believe that their

vote matters?

It is more than a coincidence that of the five times that a candidate has won the

presidency without winning the popular vote, two have happened within the past two decades.

There is an obvious problem with how the Electoral College works today, be it the inaccurate

representation of the will of the people, the unequal distribution of influence given to each state,

or the effect it has on voter turnout. This is to say that the United States should amend the

Electoral College and smoothly transition to a direct democracy; however, it should do so only

with strong federal oversight in order to maintain transparency and legitimize federalism. While

this seems like a significant change, state elections provide an adequate model of how elections

should be. States employ direct democracy when electing a governor, and not only is it effective,

but it is practical. It creates an incentive for states to encourage people to go out and vote

because every vote truly counts! There is no middle man, no additional weight given to any

votes: one vote is one vote. A more direct democracy is representative of what our Founding

Fathers wanted: a fair election in which the candidate with the most popular votes wins. It is for

these reasons that the Electoral College should be amended, for the sake of our country and the

peoples faith in democracy.


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Works Cited

Amar, Akhil R. Ten Questions, and Answers, about the Electoral College. Los Angeles Times,

Los Angeles Times, 7 Oct. 2016, www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-amar-Electoral-

college-explainer-20161007-snap-story.html. Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.

Boxer, Barbara. The Pros and Cons of the Electoral College System. Supreme Court Debates,

vol. 69, no. 1, Jan. 2017, p. 18. EBSCOhost, library.lavc.edu/login?

url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?

direct=true&db=f5h&AN=121028004&site=eds-live. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Mount, Steve. Constitutional Topic: The Electoral College. USConstitution.net, 24 Jan. 2010,

www.usconstitution.net/consttop_elec.html. Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.

Population vs. Electoral Votes. FairVote, 2016, www.fairvote.org/population_vs_electoral_votes.

Accessed 10 Apr. 2017.