Is the Electoral College Obsolete?

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The electoral college was created by our founding fathers as a compromise between having a popular vote and having Congress elect the president.  They rejected the popular vote because there weren’t two main parties, so they thought each state would vote for a local candidate and then the winner of the popular vote would not have close to a majority of the country.  In addition, the popular vote model hurt the south because a large portion of the population of southern states was slaves, who couldn’t vote.  Under the electoral college system, these slaves counted as three-fifths of a person that helped towards awarding electoral votes.  However, both of these issues are completely obsolete now, and therefore so is the electoral college.

 

In the electoral college system, not all votes are equal, which is ironic in a country that prides itself on representing equality.  The system favors small states, because the number of electoral votes is calculated by adding the number of House representatives from each state (based on population) to the number of Senate representatives (2 for every state).  For example, the population of California is 66.8 times the size of Wyoming, but California only receives 18.3 times as many electoral votes.  Also, the electoral college puts much more weight on battleground states such as Ohio or Florida.  Many residents of Maryland do not even vote for president because they are so confident that the state will elect the Democratic candidate.  If the election was determined by popular vote, I believe voter turnout would increase greatly.  

 

Recently, many politicians have attempted to repeal the Electoral College. Ten states and the District of Columbia have ratified the National Popular Vote bill, which demands that the electoral votes of each state go to the winner of the popular vote. California Senator Barbara Boxer also introduced legislation to Congress that would get rid of the Electoral College completely.  Unfortunately, neither of these bills are likely to affect any change now, since the Republicans control Congress and the Executive branch.  Republicans have benefitted from the electoral college in recent history; Clinton beat Trump by over 2 million votes this year yet still lost, and in 2000, Al Gore lost to George W. Bush even though Gore carried the popular vote by about 500,000 votes.  

 

While the electoral college is clearly a faulty process, I believe that we cannot blame it for the results of the 2016 election. If the election was based on popular vote, both candidates would have had different campaign strategies and they would have visited different states, so we cannot assume that the popular vote would have been the same. However, we can acknowledge the innate corruption of the electoral college and campaign to repeal this obsolete system.  

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