December 22, 2016
Hillary Clinton received 48.3% of the votes cast, 2,833,220 more than Donald Trump. So why is Donald Trump the president-elect? THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE.
The electoral college was drafted as a means to ensure a representative government for all states in the union–no matter the size. However, the electoral college seems to repeatedly represent minority opinions instead of the majority of the country’s beliefs.
How it works…
The Electoral College, which is a solely American concept, is made up of 538 electors who cast votes to decide the President (and Vice-President) of the United States. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators. When voters go to the polls, they choose which candidate receives their state’s electors. The candidate who receives a majority of electoral votes (270) wins the Presidency.
In all but two states, the candidate who wins the majority of votes in a state wins all that state’s electoral votes. In Nebraska and Maine, electoral votes are assigned by proportional representation, meaning that the top vote-getter in those states wins two electoral votes (for the two Senators) while the remaining electoral votes are allocated congressional district by congressional district, as a county. These rules make it possible for both candidates to receive electoral votes from Nebraska and Maine, unlike the winner-take-all system in the other 48 states.
Neither the Constitution nor Federal election laws compel electors to vote for their party’s candidate, but twenty-seven states have laws on the books that require electors to vote for their party’s candidate if that candidate gets a majority of the state’s popular vote. In 24 states, no such laws apply, but common practice is for electors to vote for their party’s nominee. However, we’ve rejected this in the past with John Quincy Adams. He won the election against Andrew Jackson even though Jackson won both popular and electoral vote since the electors believed that Jackson was too unstable to be President and the election was close enough that the vote was able to be deferred to the house of representatives. In this process, each state in the union gets one vote. Also, at the time, representative voting was prevalent in the electoral system. Splitting delegate votes in different states; for example, in new york, which had 36 delegates at the time, 26 voted one candidate and 10 for a different candidate.
Since 1888, only George W. Bush, in 2000, was elected President by the Electoral College without winning the popular vote. It appears that will again be the case this year with Donald Trump. Is the electoral college system outdated and too easy to manipulate in these days of polling, billion dollar campaigns, and multimedia? Are we providing an undue advantage to a minority opinion? Trends are seen on both sides of the political spectrum.
What major improvements can be fought for, if not, a full out removal of the electoral college? A removal of the “winner takes all” policies.
The replacement for the current winner takes all common-place ruling would be a representative electoral voting system. Which would join America with the rest of the democratic nations by becoming a direct democracy. In a representative electoral system, if your state had 9 delegates, 900,000 votes for Hillary, and 950,000 votes for Trump, then 5 electoral votes would go to Trump and 4 to Hillary, instead of all 10 votes going towards Trump purely because he got the slight majority of the state’s votes. A representative electoral vote is also literally the only way that a third-party candidate would ever come close to winning a general election.
We used to run on this voting system. For example, in 1824 representative voting was prevalent splitting delegate votes in different states. In New York, which had 36 delegates at the time, 26 voted for one candidate and 10 for a different candidate. Also, in that same election, John Quincy Adams won against Andrew Jackson even though Jackson won both popular and electoral vote since the electors believed that Jackson was too unstable to be President and the election was close enough that the vote was able to be deferred to the house of representatives. In this process, each state in the union gets one vote and it’s called a “contingent” election. However, the 2016 election could not fall to the contingent voting method because too many electoral votes are projected to Trump; the electoral vote was too close.
A last resort: Abolition…
If this representative electoral vote policy isn’t accepted by both sides of the political spectrum, then the remaining option is to abolish the electoral college, as supported by former attorney general Eric Holder. Rooting back to loyalist demands, the EC was enacted as a compromise since loyalists believed that the citizens weren’t smart or informed enough to choose the “right” leader for the country: one that will work for everyone, avoid economic turmoil, be a strong diplomat, keep our free ideals. If the EC doesn’t stand by that purpose and doesn’t become representative, then it should be abolished.