During the heated and dramatic election of 2016, Donald Trump lost the popular vote in the presidential election by a record-breaking three million votes. According to the United States House of Representatives, Five times a candidate has won the popular vote and lost the election. Andrew Jackson in 1824 (to John Quincy Adams); Samuel Tilden in 1876 (to Rutherford B.
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Hayes); Grover Cleveland in 1888 (to Benjamin Harrison); Al Gore in 2000 (to George W. Bush); Hillary Clinton in 2016 (to Donald J. Trump). (Electoral College Fast Facts). Whether or not you are a fan of President Trump, it is unfortunately clear that everyday citizens votes do not hold much power. The Electoral College is an unfair way of deciding the next president. To better understand the issue of the Electoral College, we will discuss what it is including the definition and its purpose, as well as its history.
It is important to note first that the Electoral College is a process and not a place. According to Merriam and Webster, the definition of Electoral College is, a body of people representing the states of the US, who formally cast votes for the election of the president and vice president. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Each of the people in this body is referred to as an elector. While many people believe that when they cast their vote in a presidential election, they are directly determining who will become president, they are actually determining which electors will participate in voting for the president.
In the Electoral College process, electors are nominated and selected for each presidential candidate. These electors are usually hand-picked by the candidates themselves, or by high ranking officials in the candidater’s political party. Each state sends one elector for each senator and congress-person from that state. For instance, the state of Iowa always sends six electors to the Electoral College. There are 538 total electors in each presidential election. A candidate needs to receive a majority vote of least 270 electoral votes to win office. In most states, the candidate that gets the majority of votes gets to send all of their electors to the Electoral College. This is referred to as all or nothing. Only two states divides the electors based upon the proportion of the vote that each candidate won. About a month after election day, the electors meet and present their electoral votes along with the winner of the presidency and vice presidency.
Each state gets an elector for each of its people in congress. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, Big states like Texas end up with 38 electors while small and low populated states like Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and D.C. get 3 electors. (Distribution of Electoral Votes). There is no federal law requiring electors to vote for their party or candidate. Very rarely an elector will go against their party, and against what the majority of people in their state voted. This is rare because of the fact that electors are almost always chosen from amongst people who very staunchly support their candidate and party.
The founding fathers created this idea and put it into effect during the late 1700r’s. The founding fathers main reason for creating the Electoral College was because at that time, the population was small and more evenly spread out between the colonies. The founding fathers believed that a good number of citizens, especially ones living in remote or rural areas, did not know the candidates qualifications. Therefore, they decided, they would not be able to make an educated vote in the presidential and vice-presidential elections. They only wanted input from people that would be affected most by the changing president and their policies and procedures. They were also worried about the unfair influence in the south due to slavery.
Today, the Electoral College is an antiquated concept, and is no longer fair or necessary. Presidential candidates focus most of their attention on large states with a high number of electors. They do not care or put much effort into trying to win states with small numbers of electors because they will be less helpful in the battle for Electoral votes. People who live in those states with three and four electors dont end up getting the representation that they deserve. Unfortunately, this process gives voters in states with more Electors a lot more power than voters in states with less Electors.
There are also a lot of trends that happen with the Electoral College. With the all or nothing approach that most states use, many people feel like their vote goes to waste since only one party gets all the votes for the state. This may make people less likely to cast a vote. According to Edwin D. Doverr’s book, The Disputed Presidential Election Of 2000 The size of victory in any one state is not of particular importance to the final outcome of a presidential election (32). So with the all or nothing approach, margins are not important. A win is a win, and a loss is a loss.
The Electoral college system/process is a very impactful system for our country. The Electoral College impacts everyone in one way or another. Poor decisions made by the winners of these disputed elections have directly and indirectly affected everyone. It can discourage voters from voting in states with few electors, or in states where there is a long trend of the opposite party winning. In my opinion, this is not what our forefathers intended when forming this government as a democracy.
With the modern media and technology, the people of this country are much more educated and aware about the issues, and about where candidates stand. There is no need for these practices from the late 1780r’s which were based on circumstances that were very different. After seeing months and months of political ads that at times seem ugly and harass people to vote a certain way, the last thing you would want to find out is that your vote didnt really even count in the end. The Electoral College is a heavily outdated process that is unfair to a large part of the population.
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