Due to the results of the most recent United States presidential election, controversy has been raised regarding the Electoral College. The Electoral College has performed as intended for more than 230 years, over fifty elections, and also allows for consistency of the country by dealing out popular support in order to elect a president. Many people want the Electoral College to be replaced by the popular vote which would discourage a two-party system throughout the United States.
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Changing the system would be difficult because it would most likely cause more problems, such as voter fraud, than solutions. The Electoral College system was a part of the original US Constitution, therefore, changing the process would require a Constitutional amendment. The United States electoral college voting system has proven to be satisfactory and should remain in effect for future presidential elections.
The Electoral College was created by the writers of the Constitution because they believed it to be the best method for electing a president into office. The Electoral College was established in 1787 in order to implement a new election style in 1788. When a person castr’s a vote for president, they are really casting a vote for his or her states electors. These electors then cast their ballot to represent their state in the Electoral College (Electoral College Fast Facts). There are a total of 538 electors, ranging from 3 to 55 in each state. To win the presidency, 270 votes are required. By using state electors instead of the popular vote, there is better security against uneducated voters allowing the votes to be cast by those most likely to choose the best candidate. The Electoral College protects votes from smaller states and prevents states with larger populations from having too large of an influence on the vote. The Electoral College allows a compromise between Congress and the popular vote from a state.
A benefit of keeping the electoral college is that it encourages the political stability by using a two-party system. This is true because if a third-party candidate is running for office, it is nearly impossible for them to win the popular vote in any state, therefore the electors for the Electoral College will not submit any votes supporting the minority party. There are two major political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, in which the Electoral College forces third-party candidates into one of them. According to an online article, Conversely, the major parties have every incentive to absorb minor party movements in their continual attempt to win popular majorities in the States (Kimberling). This quote is saying that many candidates in the Republican and Democratic parties are using some of the ideas from third-party competitors to try and win over the vote in his or her state. When the major parties use these ideas, they become the center of attention, allowing for two major parties opposed to hundreds of smaller parties. Candidates are required to run under a party of his or her choice, in order to establish a base to what their rule might entitle. This would ensure a successful rule before the candidate is elected (Uhlmann). The winner of the popular vote is almost always a Republican or Democrat, and this usually reflects the votes cast by each state’s electors. This being said, it is impossible that people running for president in a third-party group will win any electoral votes. Another example of the electoral college preserving a two-party system is that throughout the course of history there have always been two major parties. The Federalists and Anti-Federalists, the Democratic-Republicans who became Democrats and the National Republicans who became Whigs and then became New Republicans, all of these parties have been major throughout history. To relate this to the most recent election,
In the 2016 election, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson was on the ballot in all 50 states, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein put up a show, even suing for a recount in three states. But neither of these candidates, nor any of the dozens of others running on third-party platforms, will impact the Electoral College. (Why We Have an Electoral College – To Preserve a Two-Party System)
This is a great representation of why having an Electoral College encourages a two-party system because both of these candidates were third-party and did not win the electoral votes for any state.
The Electoral College is based on a winner takes all philosophy in 48 of the 50 states. This simply means that whoever is the winner of the popular vote in a certain state will become the winner of the electoral votes as well. People are saying that the Electoral College is an undemocratic system because in some cases, the winner of the popular vote is not the winner of the electoral votes. This situation has occurred five times throughout history, most recently, when Donald Trump won in 2016. In a quote from a college professor:
In truth, the issue is democracy with federalism (the Electoral College) versus democracy without federalism (a national popular vote). Either is democratic. Only the Electoral College preserves federalism, moderates ideological differences, and promotes national consensus in our choice of a chief executive. (Ross)
The electoral college with the winner-take-all rule in (most of) the states is perfectly democratic. It’s just federally democratic, rather than being nationally democratic (Franck). Since the federal and state governments hold more of the deciding factors when it comes to sending votes to the Electoral College, the popular vote might not always win. This is because of states such as California and Texas which have millions of more people than smaller states. California is a heavily Democratic state, so when its citizens vote, the majority of popular votes will be for the Democratic candidate. This is where the Electoral College comes in, California gets 55 electoral votes to allow for smaller states to have a say in who the next president is. Moving back to the 2016 presidential election, where Donald Trump secured the presidency with 306 electoral votes over Hillary Clinton who had 232 votes. When looking at a breakdown of the election results, 30 of the 50 states voted Republican, meaning that all of their electoral votes went to Donald Trump, which allowed him to win the Electoral College (2016 Election Results). Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, only because of the more populous states. This is why the Electoral College is the superior voting system to the popular vote, to allow for every state to have a say in the election.
From a different viewpoint, hundreds of United States citizens are protesting the Electoral College because they believe it is an unfair system due to the winner takes all rule. They believe that if you dont live in a state where their political party reigns, their vote doesnt count. An online source states the following I am voting in a national election for President and Vice President not in a state election as the system is set up for now. My vote should be counted in his or her national total of accumulated votes. That’s why I’m voting, not for a state delegate to vote (Davis). This citizen is concerned by the fact that many peopler’s votes on behalf of their state dont count because there is only one major political party. Another example from an angered citizen, approximately 500,000 Wyoming citizens have the same voting power as thirty-four million Californians (Anderson). This is saying that in the case of a tie at 269 and 269 electoral votes, every state in the House of Representatives gets one vote on who the winner of the election will be. They are saying that this principle is an unfair advantage of the Electoral College because states with more than triple the amount of citizens have an equal vote. There is only one common reason among citizens who oppose the Electoral College: the simple idea that their votes arent being counted or are meaningless. They believe that state elections and presidential elections should be held in the same way.
The Electoral College helps secure that the presidency is legitimate if, in fact, it is too close to call. If a recount was called after a popular vote style election, every state would be required to recount their votes, therefore, election results wouldnt be available for days after election day. With the Electoral College, only certain swing states, such as Florida, would need to be recounted. Many problems and tensions would arise, and illegitimacy claims would likely follow if votes needed to be counted then recounted, just to obtain a result of the election. The Electoral College also prevents against voter fraud. The popular vote gives people incentive to shove any votes that they want into the ballot box and even disregard votes that they dont want to count (Lemper). The popular votes would cause many states to change their voter laws to try and get more national votes. An example of this would be seeing more democratic states lowering their voting ages to 16 or 17 years old because younger people tend to vote democratic. Similar to teenagers, democratic states would allow felons to vote and give more rights to felons because they tend to vote more democratic. Republicans would likely restrict the rights of teenagers and the rights of felons (Rosenthal).
The United States election system called the Electoral College has done its duty to the country and should continue to perform on behalf of the presidential elections. The Electoral College has allowed for the prevention of voter fraud, allowed for the protection of a two-party system, and most importantly allowed every state to have a say in who the next leader of the country will be. Of course, there are the setbacks to the electoral college system such as not being able to have a complete say in the election, but ultimately it was implemented for a reason. Alexander Hamilton once said, The role of the Electoral College is to prevent individuals who are unfit for a variety of reasons to be in the position of chief executive of the country.
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