Is the Electoral College fair? This debate has been dividing the opinions of Americans ever since it was first established by the Founding Fathers in 1804. In all honesty, the concept does not make a great deal of sense; the US is the only democracy in the world where the candidate can win the popular vote and still lose the election. 538 members have been deemed as responsible for one of the most significant tasks in the USA – and possibly in the world. They decide who will become the next president of the United States. Like all things, it has advantages and disadvantages.
Firstly, it is worth considering that not every vote truly counts. In fact, when you cast your vote for the next presidency in November, you are not actually voting for the candidate on the ballot. Rather, you are voting for a group of electors to decide on the successor they wish to become president, whether that be Republican, Democratic, or some other third party. This majorly worries the critics of the Electoral College due to the chance of a ‘rogue elector’. In multiple states, there is no set law that requires the electors to give their electoral vote to the candidate who won the popular vote in their state. The lack of this law allows these unbound electors to cheat and give their vote to their preferred victor instead of the actual winner, which is undeniably unjust as the electors are able to abuse their power effortlessly.
On top of that, people who acknowledge that their vote does not matter tend to opt out of voting altogether. At least 40% of American voters stay home during elections, according to The Conversation. Deciding not to vote is far from an uncommon stance in America, but why is this? From my research, I established that there are multiple reasons for the US voter count being remarkably low. For example, some feel as though none of the candidates represent their ideas, others say they do not care about the outcome of the presidency enough, and some people simply are unable to vote. However, there was one particular reason that stood out to me: people believe that the electoral system is unfair! It is implied that if the Electoral College were to be abolished, Americans would be willing to increasingly participate in politics.
Moreover, there is the fact that in numerous presidential elections, the candidate with the majority votes failed to win the Electoral College – and thus forfeited the presidency. To illustrate, in 2016 Clinton surpassed Trump and won the national popular vote by almost three million. Yet, Clinton did not successfully take on the role of president due to Trump winning seventy-seven more electoral votes. Critics believe this makes the system unbalanced as it favors the electoral votes over the votes of the American people. According to The Guardian, this single incident was enough to turn some Americans off of voting ever again.
Intriguingly, it has been shown that swing states have an excessive amount of power in presidential elections. Whilst both major political parties – Democratic and Republican – have many states they can count on winning over, these ‘swing states’ are too closely divided to predict. If you were to live in a swing state during the November elections, you would be constantly bombarded with hundreds of canvassers knocking at your door in an attempt to get you to vote. Florida was the state that determined President Bush won in 2000. The margin was so close that the state law required a recount. Your vote is extremely valuable in these states as it could end up being the decider on the next president. Despite that, swing states are not entirely representative of the country as a whole. This much control should not be placed on a select few states and instead should be evened out across the American people themselves.
Although the Electoral College has some clear flaws, there are still ways in which it makes it equitable and undemanding. Suppose that a state had imperfections with voting. There is a simple solution. The state itself can recount its votes rather than a hugely expensive national recount. This saves a great deal of time and money for the country, meaning that the states who counted correctly the first time are fairly able to finalize their decision rather than waiting for a recount themselves.
In addition, the Electoral College forces the candidates to give a sum of their attention to the smaller or less populated states. This helps places such as Wyoming and North Dakota feel included and relevant in choosing the most suitable president for the United States. Many people claim that if the Electoral College were to be abolished, these states would suffer. This is not the case. In fact, it does more harm than good. It may give these states a disproportionate weight, but it does not give them more concentration than the candidates. According to FairVote, the 2016 candidates spent almost all their time in a handful of states, each of them being classed as ‘medium’ or ‘large’. Whereas the ten smallest states had no events and no attention. They do not benefit in any way!
Taking everything into account, the Electoral College can be both defended and criticized. Either way, to me, it is clear that the system is unfair and needs to be re-evaluated. Yes, amending the Constitution would be a lengthy process – so as a substitute I believe it is necessary to at least place a law in which all participating states would agree to award their electoral vote to the candidate who gained the most popular vote in their state. On top of that, there could be a reassessing of who is affected in a negative way and an attempt to find a solution that would benefit everyone involved. I understand it cannot be fixed overnight – but we can take small steps toward rebuilding the future of American politics. I mean, wouldn’t you want your vote to count?