How Electoral College Disenfranchises Voters

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How the Electoral College Disenfranchises Voters

The Electoral College is decorated with honor, tradition, and esteem for being the prized method for selecting the president of the United States, yet it stands for everything that America is not. Americar’s prized slogan, all men are created equal, is completely disregarded by the process employed by the Electoral College. As a result, the gilded idea of equal representation and the right to vote are chipped away every time the Electoral College disenfranchises a voter.

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The Electoral College was designed to protect the populace, but it has proven to only warp their will. The continuation of the Electoral College will only promote an illegitimate democratic process, therefore it must be abolished.

The electorate does not select the president; the Electoral College does. Each state has a set of electors for each presidential candidate equal to the number of congressmen that state has. For example, Indiana has nine representatives and two senators, therefore, Indiana has eleven electors. The electors convene in their respective states in the December following the election and cast their votes for president. Each state is allowed to determine the rules regarding the distribution of electoral votes, however, forty-eight states default to the winner-take-all system. The winner-take-all system bundles all of a stater’s electoral votes and awards them to whomever obtains the popular vote in that state. As a result, the 538 electors directly select the president, not the people (Bromwich).

The validity of the Electoral College deteriorates as its foundation is assessed. As the Constitutional Convention was coming to a close, the method for selecting president was heavily disputed. Out of desperation, the Founders hastily threw together the Electoral College as they were eager to conclude the Convention (Dahl 75). In addition, the Constitution was written in 1787, and the Founders were taking into consideration the circumstances at that time: communication was in its primitive stages, access to information was not widespread, and there were no education requirements. The Founders had reasonable grounds to believe that the populace did not have adequate resources or knowledge to make an informed decision, and, therefore, created a system in which the most qualified individuals would select the president (Every xxx). However, this cannot be any farther from the truth now, and the electorate still suffers from a decision made over 200 years ago.

In the current system, some votes have greater sway than others. For example, California has fifty-five electoral votes and a population of 39,776,830 people, and Wyoming has three electoral votes and a population of 573,720 people (US). Each elector in California represents 723,215 people, and each elector in Wyoming represents 191,240 people (Distribution). Each vote cast in Wyoming has 3.8 times more influence than the exact same vote cast in California. The principle of one man, one vote is woven into Americar’s history, and is reaffirmed in the Supreme Court decision of Wesberry v. Sanders, in which the court held that one personr’s vote…is to be worth as much as anotherr’s (Wesberry). The Electoral College blatantly goes against common law and cornerstone ideals. Such diversion from American principles gives undue influence to smaller states, and disenfranchises larger ones. America was founded on the principle of equal representation; however, the American democratic process prevents this simple ideal.

The process that gives American democracy its legitimacy is, in itself, illegitimate and undemocratic, and will only lead to to an undermined government that lacks the support of its constituents.
In the 2016 presidential election the nation as a whole [was] not going to elect the next president. Twelve states [were] (Two-thirds) because the Electoral College fosters an environment that gives swing states a strategic advantage (Dahl 82). Currently, states can be written off as unquestionably Democratic or Republican (Hoban). For example, California is surely Democratic, and Texas is guaranteed Republican. As a result, candidates can focus their time and resources into bolstering support in swing states as voters in the remaining states no longer matter. In the most recent election, ninety-six percent of all campaign events took place in swing states, and two-thirds of all campaign events were concentrated in a mere six of those states (Two-thirds). The figure below displays the amount of campaign visits by state in the 2016 election, and the swing states were disproportionately visited more than others (fig. 1).

How can a candidate be the change America needs if they fail reach out to three-fourths of the country? Those twelve states do not represent America, yet those twelve states received nearly all the attention of candidates. If the election can be tipped by only a quarter of the nation, America dissolves its ideal of fairness. Straying from this democratic ideal leads to people in non-swing states [thinking] their vote makes [no] difference,” (Voter). The continuity of the Electoral College will only result in voter apathy . Lower voter turnout will leave major decisions in few hands, which can lead to tyranny of the majority and misrepresentation of the nationr’s interests.
However, the Electoral College draws the most controversy with its winner-take-all system. All a candidate needs to do is win the popular vote in a state, even if it is by a razor-thin margin since all the stater’s electoral votes [are concentrated] in a single slate (Dahl 82). For example, in 2016, President Trump barely won the popular vote in Michigan by ten thousand votes, yet he still received all of Michiganr’s sixteen electoral votes (Presidential). Similar scenarios transpired in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which allowed President Trump to walk away with the election, despite losing the popular vote (Meko et al.). The Electoral College allows candidates to amass electoral votes through slim margins, while leaving the other candidate completely empty handed. When all is said and done, millions of votes make little difference in who earns the presidency, and leads to an important question: How legal is the winner-take-all system?

The three-fifths clause was written into Constitution, and as history shows, it was illegal. Likewise, the Electoral College is written into the Constitution, but in practice it has proven to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that all of us, and all of our votes, must be treated equally under the law (The Legal). To deny voters this essential right is not only undemocratic, but illegal. An illegal system brings leads to a disillusioned America. The last four of five elections righteously belonged to the Democratic candidate. Due to the Electoral College, two of those elections granted the presidency to the Republican candidate (Popular). This leaves many Americans asking the question: How? The current system creates a foggy, flimsy, and futile system that perplexes the populace. The people think the Electoral system is too complicated, and forty-three percent of people do not even know it exists (Study). Public confidence in the election process is necessary, and the current system prevents this. Therefore, a simple process should be adopted in order to restore faith in the election process.

The undemocratic ideals propagated by the Electoral College have infiltrated American society with their effects rampant throughout America. The nation as a whole, has assessed the disregard, the distortion, and the degradation of American values: a direct popular vote would solve for all the structural defects of the current system (The Electoral 319). Voter turnout rates would skyrocket, focus on actual issues would dominate, a government that genuinely represents the people will prevail–the benefits of a direct vote are extensive (Parker). In addition, sixty-three percent of voters want to abolish the Electoral College (Matthews). In order to fulfill the American promises of equality, fairness, and representation, the electorate must demand a direct vote.
However, switching to a direct popular vote is not simple. In order to abolish the Electoral College, an amendment to the Constitution is needed. The amendment would have have to be passed by two-thirds of both chambers of Congress, and three-fourths of the states. Although a hefty task, it is possible as seventeen other amendments have passed. Stanford Professor Doug McAdam ensures the no single reform would deliver more than this one and the amendment will most likely emerge victorious (Parker).

Every citizen should understand that their votes are equal. Every citizen should know their vote counts. Every citizen should understand the system that elects the president.
To remedy the detriments of the Electoral College, a direct popular vote should be adopted. A direct vote would substitute perplexity with precision, ambiguity with assurance, and chance with choice. The Electoral College does not support American democracy, therefore, the American democracy should not support the Electoral College.

Works Cited

  1. Bayh, Birch. Foreword. Every Vote Equal: A State Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote, by John R. Koza et al., National Popular Vote Press, 2013, pp. xxix-xxxi.
  2. Bayh, Birch. The Electoral College: An Enigma in a Democratic Society. Valparaiso University Law Review, vol. 11, no. 3, 1977, scholar.valpo.edu/vulr/vol11/iss3/1.
  3. Bromwich, Jonah Engel. How Does the Electoral College Work? The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Nov. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/us/politics/how-does-the-electoral-college-work.html.
  4. Dahl, Robert A. How Democratic Is the American Constitution? New Haven, Yale University, Press, 2003.
  5. Distribution of Electoral Votes. National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, 10 Dec. 2010, www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/allocation.html.
  6. Hoban, Brennan. Why Are Swing States Important? Brookings Institution, Brookings Institution, 28 Sept. 2016, www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2016/09/28/why-are-swing-states-important/.
  7. Matthews, Dylan. Poll: Most People Who Voted in 2016 Want to Abolish the Electoral College. Vox, 24 Nov. 2016, www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/24/13731770/electoral-college-poll.
  8. Meko, Tim, et al. How Trump Won the Presidency with Razor-Thin Margins in Swing States. The Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/swing-state-margins/.
  9. Parker, Clifton B. Popular Vote Better than Electoral College, Stanford Scholars Say. Stanford News, Stanford University, 8 Apr. 2016, www.news.stanford.edu/2016/04/08/electoral-college-bad-040816/.
  10. Popular Votes 1940-2016. Roper Center, Cornell University, www.ropercenter.cornell.edu/polls/us-elections/popular-vote/.
  11. Presidential Election Results: Donald J. Trump Wins. The New York Times, 9 Aug. 2017, www.nytimes.com/elections/2016/results/president.
  12. Study: Americans Don’t Know Much About History NBC Los Angeles, 17 July 2009, www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Study-Americans-Dont-Know-About-Much-About-History.html
  13. The Legal Argument. Equal Citizens. www.equalcitizens.us/equal-votes/
  14. Two-Thirds of Presidential Campaign Is in Just 6 States. National Popular Vote, www.nationalpopularvote.com/campaign-events-2016.
  15. US States – Ranked by Population 2018. World Population Review, www.worldpopulationreview.com/states/.
  16. Voter Turnout higher in swing states than elsewhere. USA Today, 23 Dec. 2012, www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2012/12/23/voter-turnout-swing-states/1787693/
  17. Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964). Justia, www.supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/376/1/.

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