March 30, 2017

WELCOME TO THE ZOO | The Electoral College

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With an open mind and two sides of the story, you’re bound to learn something new.

Welcome to the zoo! This is a blog where both the Republican and Democratic viewpoints are represented. The blog is not meant to sway you either way necessarily, just to present both sides of the story. You may not agree with the whole article, but hey, you’re likely to agree with half! The topic this week: The Electoral College.

Stance 1:

The Electoral College is a longstanding establishment of the United States of America. Our Founding Fathers enshrined the Electoral College in the US Constitution because they thought it was the best way to choose the president. The Electoral College enhances the status of minority interests, guarantees certainty of the outcome of the election, and prevents the system from becoming inundated with candidates.

The Electoral College ensures that all parts of the country are involved in selecting the President of the United States by preventing larger states from having undue influence. Each state’s allocation of electoral votes is the total of its representation in the House—reflecting the popular vote, which disadvantages small states—and the Senate, which gives small states equal representation with the large ones. This keeps the candidates from ignoring smaller states to campaign solely in more heavily populated areas. Since the presidential candidates need electoral votes from multiple regions, they cannot marginalize rural areas. Instead, they must construct campaign platforms with a national focus. Thus, the winner will serve the needs of the entire country, from a small town farmer in Indiana to a teacher in Nebraska to a metropolitan finance manager in New York City.

If the election were based on the popular vote, there would remain a possibility that a candidate could receive the greatest number of popular votes without obtaining a majority. This has happened twice in our nation’s history in the cases of President Nixon and President Clinton, both of whom won the majority of electoral votes while receiving only a plurality (43 percent) of the popular vote. Consequently, the Electoral College settles the question of legitimacy and bars recounts or run-off elections.

In our most recent election, although Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, she only received a plurality (48 percent), not the majority; the remaining votes were distributed amongst third party candidates. If we abandoned the Electoral College and enabled candidates to win with only a plurality of the popular vote we would be flooded with candidates. Every group with an ideological or major policy interest would field a candidate in the chance that they could win a plurality: we would have pro-life and pro-choice parties, parties favoring and opposing GMO labeling, etc. Thus, without the Electoral college we could fall into a parliamentary structured system in which we could easily end up with a president elected with only 25 percent of the vote. Another option is that we could insert a run-off system onto our constitution, but that could lead to one-issue elections and a far worse pick of candidates.

Citizens who complain that it is unfair that Donald Trump was elected president have not seriously considered the implications of removing the Electoral College nor appreciated the genius of our Founding Fathers in establishing it.

Conservatively yours,

Stance 2:

The Electoral College has failed us. The Framers created the institution to protect the American population from itself in case democracy failed. Unfortunately, the Electoral College has fallen victim to the terror it once was intended to prevent. Katie and I discussed the detriments of President Trump’s candidacy previously; we stand on opposite sides of the political aisle, yet we both agreed that Donald Trump is unfit to be President of the United States. Why did the Electoral College vote for a temperamental and perhaps mentally unstable president? Because the Electoral College no longer properly represents all American citizens.

If the United States’ presidential elections were based on the popular vote rather than the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton would be president. I do not believe it is fair to say that Secretary Clinton should be our president because we cannot change what is already done.  However I do think we need to amend our voting system to reflect the contemporary population in the United States. Hillary Clinton received about 2.7 million more votes than Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential Election. But because the Electoral College determines who becomes president based on warped representation votes, Donald Trump won.

The number of votes awarded to each state does not reflect the population of those states, nor does it properly represent U.S. voters. States with smaller populations receive more electoral votes than they should based on the population in those states. Because there is such a population disparity amongst the states, our government should reconsider the distribution of Electoral College votes or abolish the system altogether. Essentially, citizens who live in states with small populations are likely to have more of a say in who is elected president than voters in California or New York, for example. According to the Pew Research Center, one vote from Wyoming is worth four votes from Texas. One Wyoming vote is much more valuable than a Texan vote. Based on the 2008 Census Bureau, Wyoming has a population of 532,668 citizens and received three electoral votes. Texas has 25 million citizens and thirty-two electoral votes. The ratio of the citizens to electoral college votes is unequal; each Wyoming electoral vote represents 177,556 voters, and each Texas electoral vote represents 715,499 citizens. This is an extremely unequal distribution of votes.

I think the Framers were brilliant, but there is no way they could have foreseen these voter-per-state ratio discrepancies when they added the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution. The popular vote system is used in state elections, so why is it considered inadequate for our presidential elections? One person deserves one vote; we need to fix our voting system so it properly reflects the opinion of the majority of voters. I want to know my ballot in New York is just as valuable as the ballot cast by someone in South Dakota.

Liberally yours,