The Electoral College: Good or Bad
House of Representatives. Each of these electors meets in their respective state capitals and cast their vote for the offices of President and Vice President. These electors are supposed to represent the popular vote that took place the month before. These votes are tallied and a winner is declared. While the process seems simple, there are major flaws in the United States Electoral College. The first major flaw is the fact that there is no federal or constitutional law against an elector casting their vote for someone other than the winner of the popular vote in their state.
There are a few states that have laws concerning this, but most of the time there is little penalty for someone who doesn’t vote the way that they are told by the majority of voters. In fact, a number of states impose nothing more than a monetary fine. Voters who vote for someone other than pledged, known as “faithless electors”, have not actually changed the outcome of any U. S. presidential election so far. However, the possibility remains that they have the potential to do so. A wide-open loophole such as this should not exist in our election system. Even disregarding the loophole of faithless electors, the U. S.
Electoral College system has failed the United States a number of times, most recently in the 2000 election. In the presidential elections in 1876, 1888, and 2000, the Electoral College elected the person that did not receive the popular vote. This happens because majority of the states have a “winner-takes-all” approach to electoral voting. This means that whichever candidate wins the popular vote in that state earns all of that state’s electoral votes. For example, a candidate could win a large state like California, which has a lot of electoral votes, by a narrow margin and would receive all of that state’s pledged votes.
Combine this with results from other states and a candidate can technically have won the popular vote, but receive less electoral votes. The system obviously favors small states because, regardless of population, each state has a minimum of 3 electoral votes. While it would seem that our nation would have long abolished the Electoral College, especially since it has changed the outcome of at least three of our presidential elections, there are good reasons why that has not yet come to fruition.
The best reason that the Electoral College is still intact is because it forces candidates to campaign in areas that they would not normally. If the vote was purely a popular one, candidates could easily campaign in heavy populated cities and completely disregard smaller rural areas. By giving states like Alaska and Rhode Island, that have small populations, the minimum 3 electoral votes, it forces candidates to value these states that would otherwise be ignored. This also means that our President-elect, in theory, should also appeal to more voter groups overall geographically, socio-economically, and ethnically.
I understand why the U. S. Electoral College was first created, but I think times have changed and that we should abolish this outdated system. Especially with all the advances that we have made in technology, conducting a popular vote would now be a fairly easy process than a century ago and we need to take steps to change the way that we conduct presidential elections. The 2000 election, a mere 13 years ago, would have had a completely different outcome if we would have had a popular vote versus the Electoral College.
Elections are supposed to represent the will of the people and because the Electoral College has failed to do that, it needs to be redesigned to ensure that does not happen or eradicated altogether. By not taking corrective measures, we are devaluing the vote of each and every American citizen. References U. S. Constitution. Article II, Section 1, Clause 2. “Why the Electoral College, P. Andrew Sandlin, December 13, 2000”. Lewrockwell. com. December 13, 2000. Retreived May 20, 2013.