Eliminating The Electoral College: How The Electoral College Has Become Obsolete and is Damaging Elections
The Electoral College is a staple of U.S. presidential elections.
The Electoral College is a staple of U.S. presidential elections. Every four years on Election Day, voters analyze the different states they must win so that their candidate will receive 270 electoral votes. This system effectively prevents one or two more highly populated states from unfairly influencing the result of an election; however, the Electoral College should not be the sole determinant of who eventually wins. Generally, electoral votes are not assigned proportionally to a state’s population—a vote in Wyoming has three times the power compared to a vote in California because electoral votes are determined by seats in Congress rather than population. In light of the 2020 election, it is imperative to acknowledge that the Electoral College is inherently flawed because it is a system that was bred out of fear and is inapplicable to modern times. Not only does it fail to accurately represent the majority view of the nation, but it also decreases voter turnout. Thus, America should replace it with the National Popular Vote (NPV), which would more accurately reflect which candidate the country supports.
This year, President Donald Trump lost to former Vice President Joe Biden (now President-elect Biden) by over four million votes nationwide, yet Trump still had a chance to claim victory by way of a couple thousand votes in certain battleground states. Theoretically speaking, if a presidential candidate won New York, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, and North Carolina by one vote, he or she would be deemed the victor. A candidate can win the national popular vote yet still lose the election simply because the Electoral College lends more significance to a few votes in key states. In 2020, for example, the election came down to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. 2020 wasn’t the first time that the Electoral College sparked controversy in election results. In total, five presidents have won an election through electoral votes rather than popular votes. It’s happened twice in the past two decades. In the 2016 Election, many Americans felt that President Trump had stolen the election. After all, he was a president who did not represent the majority of the people—his opponent Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes.
Not only does the Electoral College allow a president who does not have the support of the majority to win, but it also decreases voter turnout. The drastic decrease in voter turnout points to another flaw in the system: The Electoral College’s “winner takes all” policy decreases voters’ enthusiasm to participate in the election. A state can either be red or blue; it cannot give half of its electoral votes to one candidate while the other to another. However, if a state is on the verge between the two parties, a mere number of votes can turn the entire region Republican or Democratic, discounting the votes of those who did not support the winning party. Moreover, we must also consider the impact that faithless electors—electors who don’t vote for the candidate they pledge to vote for—have on the election. Though such occurrences are rare, in a situation where the difference between electoral votes for the two primary parties is small, one or two faithless electors can sway the entire election.
All of these flaws raise the question: Why is a system that seems outdated and unfair still being used to select the most powerful person in the country? The Founding Fathers implemented the Electoral College to prevent mob rule—they feared that 18th-century voters, lacking full knowledge of the candidates, could elect a poor leader, a choice that electors, individuals who already understand the game of politics, would most likely not make. Yet modern-day American citizens are much more educated and informed about politics than their ancestors were. If the popular vote has drastically differed from the electoral votes in two elections over the past decade, perhaps these instances serve as a sign that the electoral college is obsolete.
Not only does the Electoral College misrepresent public opinion and inflate the value of some votes over other, it does so in an age where the founders’ concerns are no longer relevant—now, with the rise of new technology and television, people can have access to the election and its candidates with a mere click of a button.
The solution is clear: The NPV must take the place of the Electoral College. By using the NPV, a president’s election will represent the view of the majority and will not be solely determined by the poll results of swing or battleground states.