Time to Change the Electoral College?


Is it time for a new amendment abolishing the Electoral College? After the 2016 Election many Americans believe it is. America is the only country that uses this process to elect their leader. In all other democrat locations, the popular vote is used to choose a leader of the nation. Let’s begin by first looking at the system in place.

2016 Final Electoral Map

2016 Final Electoral Map (source: Business Insider)

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. 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.

Why is there an Electoral College?

FactCheck.org sites the following answer:

The reason that the Constitution calls for this extra layer, rather than just providing for the direct election of the president, is that most of the nation’s founders were actually rather afraid of democracy. James Madison worried about what he called “factions,” which he defined as groups of citizens who have a common interest in some proposal that would either violate the rights of other citizens or would harm the nation as a whole. Madison’s fear – which Alexis de Tocqueville later dubbed “the tyranny of the majority” – was that a faction could grow to encompass more than 50 percent of the population, at which point it could “sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.” Madison has a solution for tyranny of the majority: “A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”

After further research, this is the agreed upon reasoning for the system. Other articles have been written that applies this reasoning to specific groups during our history, and it holds true.

Why not use the Popular Vote?

On the surface, it seems like a simple, obvious process to choose. From my investigation, it seems as if the popular vote was what the Constitution had in mind to decide the Presidency. The real problem seems not to lie in the electoral college, but in the way states award electors.

Currently Maine and Nebraska are the only two states(including DC) to not fully use the statewide method (winner take all) in distributing electors. They include a district method as well.

It makes sense to now look into the method of proportionally awarding delegates. For example, if Trump was able to win 60% of the state and Clinton 40% and that state had 10 electors, Trump would win 6 and Clinton 4.

I was surprised to see many websites working loosely on this idea. Many have computed the 2016 Election Results as if this system was in place. There are of course factors that can’t be assumed if the proportional system was in effect for 2016. For example:

  • How would people’s voting attitudes change?
  • What would the new number of electors be needed to win?
  • Would there be a new total of electors per state?

For preliminary research, the findings are stout that this is looking as a good change to the voting system currently in place. Almost every argument one can make against the electoral college not being the popular vote, can be solved in a proportional system. President Trump won because his team studied and researched the system and then set into motion a plan based off of that research better than Hillary’s did. The path to victory was 270, period. Popular vote does not matter in the current system we have.

If you want all votes to count, and remain fair in that small states have nearly the same weight as large ones, it seems clear the way electors are awarded is the problem, not the electoral college. A change to the electoral will most likely be needed if there is a change in the way electors are awarded, but the college itself I feel, should remain in place.

All political parties will learn to exploit the system as they do now. That is the reason we need a safety net just in case there is an instance where the will of the people would be comprised (yes, I know many feel this already happened).

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