By Kevin Pai
The electoral college was created by the founding fathers as a keystone for the American election. They put it in place for the core reason that they could not trust the majority of Americans to make an educated and informed decision. It was even designed at a time where Americans were widely illiterate. According to the U.S Department of Education the illiteracy rate has plummeted to 14%, but this doesn’t mean people are staying informed.
We have seen in the 2016 presidential election media taking blatant political stances supporting either candidate. They are willing to publish biased reports on the candidates that result in less than true information being spread, and focus on trivial statements. The masses tend to get most of their news from sources like these, forcing them to do their own research, or else just trust these biased sources. Unless they’re very politically active, people making an effort to do this is simply not going to happen.
Voter fraud is an issue in this country, although not as big as it’s been perpetuated by the right but not as miniscule as the left claims it to be. More data on the 3 million illegal aliens who may have voted in this election has still not been released. Unfortunately, data like this is usually not realized until around February, a month after the President-Elect has been Inaugurated. Still, you do not have to be an illegal immigrant to commit voter fraud. In 2012, the Pew Center of the States released a report that 2.7 million people were registered in more than one state. This is far more troubling that this large amount of people have possibly, unknowingly, committed voter fraud. This is spread out over all 50 states, so it does not skew our current electoral college significantly. If American elections were decided by a popular vote, this would make up around .8% of the total population which is 323,730,000 people.
One of the most important things the electoral college does is protect the minority population. With a popular vote, a politician can just campaign to get the votes of the majority, leaving the minority completely neglected. States like New York, California, and Texas, would be the main focus of presidential candidates. The electoral college forces them to appeal to smaller, rural communities, and not just the densely populated cities. Because each small state has at least 3 electoral votes, winning a large chunk of middle America could net a politician up to 84 electoral votes, which is only equivalent to New york and California combined.
Without the electoral college, state power would be undermined, giving the federal government unnecessary power. People who may not care or want this much power and it removes the point of a state to manage it professionally. The electoral college allows for our entire country to stay united under two parties, instead of fragmenting us into multiple parties. Countries with popular voting systems generally have multiple significant parties, which splits up the nation even more then our two party system does. A popular vote would force candidates to become more specialized to appeal to specific sects of the country. Rural areas would be overwhelmed by urban cities, thus creating a certain level of disenfranchisement. The electoral college unites the rural areas of the country, which creates a balance between urban and rural, as well as Democrat and Republican.
By Linda Bergin
In the past two decades, three out of the five presidential elections were won by candidates who received the majority of both the popular vote and the electoral college. The other two were won by the majority of electoral votes, yet lost the popular vote. Al Gore and Hillary Clinton will go down in history as two candidates who received the popular vote, yet did not receive the majority of electoral votes, therefore losing the election. The electoral college is damaging towards our democracy and should be replaced with a popular vote.
During the election season, it is regularly expressed that every vote counts. Under the electoral college, that is not entirely true. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, 48 states and the District of Columbia use the ‘winner-take-all’ method, where every vote within the state is counted and whoever has the majority of votes receives all of the state’s electoral votes. According to Livescience, 40% of Americans do not vote because they feel that the election is not directly affected by their vote. Methods like ‘winner-take-all’ discourage voter turnout.
However, some states have found an alternative. Maine and Nebraska are the only two states within the U.S. to use the congressional district method, where one electoral vote is given to each district and the remaining two are given to the statewide winner. According to a study by FairVote, using the congressional district method nationwide would make the presidential election less competitive and increase the likelihood of the winning candidate losing the popular vote. This means that using the congressional district method would create new problems and worsen our current ones.
During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the delegates debated using the popular vote. According to the Federal Electoral Commission, the delegates did not trust the common, rural people to directly vote for the president because they feared that the common people would not be informed and simply vote for someone from their state. This is not applicable now, as social media and news outlets let millions of voters across America have access to countless policies and information that each candidate puts forth. The popular vote would allow informed voters to have direct access to electing their president.
Delegates at the convention also worried over the elections being decided by highly populous states while ignoring the smaller ones. It is fair to say that a voter within a large city might not share the concerns of a voter within a rural town, yet this does not mean that both votes should not be treated as equal. And if the majority of the U.S. population chooses a candidate, then that candidate should win regardless of how many people are on the opposing side.
The electoral college is used in a democracy, yet it doesn’t always pick who the majority of people voted for. Voting is supposed to make people feel in control of the direction that their county chooses. Our country is a democracy, and if the electoral college is replaced with the popular vote, it will give people the direct control that they want.