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The Electoral College: Disrupted Democracy

By Carter Hanson in Opinion & Politics


The Electoral College 2016

Last week, Donald Trump was elected to be the 45th president of the United States. This label may be misleading, as it implies that these states are “united.” Though the Electoral College may be fully committed to Trump, the popular vote went in favor of Clinton by nearly a million. This has resulted in numerous protests across the US in the successive weeks since the historic election.

The Electoral College was invented in 1787, during the same convention in which the Constitution was established. Delegates of the Constitutional Convention created the Electoral College in the wake of the Revolution, when there were fewenough people for it to work.

“Keeping a good portion of the original Constitution intact is an important thing… this is one of those elements,” said social studies teacher Darren Bessett.

The Constitution is extremely important, and tearing it apart may not be the correct step forward. However, so much has changed in the last 300 years that it may be necessary to preserve what remains of the Constitution.

Another factor that contributed to the creation of the Electoral College was the fact that, as this had been one of the first experiment with democracy in world history, many of the prominent figures in government didn’t completely trust the people’s ability to choose a trustworthy individual for the office of president.

“It was originally created so that people that are not as intelligent don’t go ahead and vote for somebody that [is not] the right candidate,” said sophomore Nicholas Sims.

Today, this has become an out-of-date system. Though giving smaller states more of a voice was a great idea in the late 1700s, states today have failed to represent the people becauset their populations are so different. For example, each Wyomingite’s vote counts for three Californians’ votes. This is disproportional, not to mention just plain wrong.

The Electoral College has betrayed its purpose five times in US history, when the candidate who got fewer votes was elected president. We saw this last week when Donald Trump won the electoral college despite Hillary Clinton getting almost a million more votes.

“There have been several times when a candidate will receive the popular vote but did not actually earn the presidency. On a lot of common sense ideological grounds that’s what many people will argue. Who ever’s more popular should get the presidency,” said Bessett.

“I think it's stupid,” said junior Jesse Blank.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, democracy is a system that is “government by the people… rule of the majority.” We see that the United States has fallen short of being a democracy by having a president elected without getting a majority of the people to vote for him.

However, many people like the Electoral College because it gets candidates to campaign in more states. This is founded on the idea that the Electoral College makes smaller states worth more. This supposedly forces candidates to campaign in all states, not just in the big ones.

This does not work, for the candidates this year only focused on swing states, with most of them being worth a lot of electors. This makes swing states more important than all of the other states because their near even political landscape forces candidates to swing it in their favor.

Another issue is that the amount that a certain candidate leads by in a state means nothing. This year in California, 65% of the people voted for Clinton, but the only thing that matters is if you get a majority, or 51%. This almost makes the other 14% of Californian voters, not to mention the 35% who voted for Trump, practically worth nothing in the election. This is not right.

The only apparent advantage of the electoral vote that is used against the popular vote is that, according to sophomore Will Waldrip, “It helps the Republican win.”

On the other hand, the popular vote is an alternative to the Electoral College. This makes people vote for the presidential candidate of their choice directly, rather than through electors. This creates an even and just platform for all to vote from, no matter what state you are from.

So here is the choice, America: either you can have a system that disenfranchises voters by placing a higher value to people's votes if they live in swing states, or we can have a system where everyone gets to vote directly for president, therein securing the American value that states that each person, no matter who they are, gets the same amount of votes; one.

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