Columnist explains why Electoral College is a necessary evil in the U.S.

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Let me begin by saying that I do not like the Electoral College.
It is a system designed by the Founding Fathers to take power away from the common man, a system that severely limits the amount of parties that are able to exist in the American system, and has on more than one occasion produced an outcome in which the winner of the popular vote lost the election.
On a more personal note, I am against the Electoral College because, as a conservative in the state of New York, the Electoral College will, in nearly every circumstance, ensure that my vote is overridden.
All of this being said, the Electoral College, or a similar system, is a necessary evil in a country as diverse and large as the United States.
The Electoral College really only allows for the existence of two dominant parties along with a third party that rarely gets any votes.
The reason behind this is that a candidate needs 270 out of the 538 electoral votes to win the election, and if there are more than two candidates campaigning for those votes, it is nearly impossible for any one candidate to get to 270.
In this case, the election is then thrown into the House of Representatives.
Congress not only has an approval rating of less than 20%, but is also notorious for being more polarized than the American public.
Allowing the House to determine the winner of an election would be extremely anti-democratic for this reason, as their decision would almost definitely not reflect that of the public’s.
The solution to this is simple for many: abolish the Electoral College and determine the winners of elections based on a popular vote.
To keep things democratic, it would be necessary that the winner receive a majority of the votes, effectively making it necessary that only two major parties have real chances of winning elections.
This would defeat the purpose of abolishing the Electoral College, as this is its main goal. The only way to allow for more than two major parties is for there to be no requirement of an absolute majority, and with no formal structure ensuring this, we would have to rely on pluralities.
In a nation of this size, a plurality would be massively undemocratic.
In an extreme, but very real example, the Nazi Party won First Party in the German Reichstag in 1932 with only 37% of the votes.
If this were to happen in the United States, this would leave over 202 million Americans unhappy with the election outcome.
Allowing such a small percentage of the population’s representatives to determine policy defeats the purpose of a democracy, and effectively establishes an oligarchy elected out of the dilution of votes.
Time and time again I will return to the political theories of Aristotle, who described democracy as a defective form of government, but at the same time the most favorable of any attainable form of government.
Democracy is an extremely flawed system and will absolutely never work perfectly.
The Electoral College is an example of how democracy can pervert the politics of the American public.
Democracy is, however, exceptional in that it allows for us to constantly be moving in a direction that, although never making it perfect, makes democracy work better for each American citizen.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

    All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.
    Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population

    Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
    No more distorting, crude, and divisive and red and blue state maps of predictable outcomes, that don’t represent any minority party voters within each state.
    No more handful of ‘battleground’ states (where the two major political parties happen to have similar levels of support) where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 38+ predictable states that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
    All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

    In 2017, the bill has passed the New Mexico Senate.
    The bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
    Since 2006, the bill has passed 35 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 261 electoral votes.
    The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the way to guaranteeing the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country

    NationalPopularVote

  2. With the current system of electing the President, none of the states requires that a presidential candidate receive anything more than the most popular votes in order to receive all of the state’s or district’s electoral votes.

    Since 1828, one in six states have cast their Electoral College votes for a candidate who failed to win the support of 50 percent of voters in their state

    Not a single legislative bill has been introduced in any state legislature in recent decades (among the more than 100,000 bills that are introduced in every two-year period by the nation’s 7,300 state legislators) proposing to change the existing universal practice of the states to award electoral votes to the candidate who receives a plurality (as opposed to absolute majority) of the votes (statewide or district-wide). There is no evidence of any public sentiment in favor of imposing such a requirement.

    If the current Electoral College type of arrangement were essential for avoiding a proliferation of candidates and people being elected with low percentages of the vote, we should see evidence of these conjectured outcomes in elections that do not employ such an arrangement. In elections in which the winner is the candidate receiving the most votes throughout the entire jurisdiction served by that office, historical evidence shows that there is no massive proliferation of third-party candidates and candidates do not win with small percentages. For example, in 905 elections for governor in 60 years, the winning candidate received more than 50% of the vote in over 91% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 45% of the vote in 98% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 40% of the vote in 99% of the elections. No winning candidate received less than 35% of the popular vote.

    Since 1824 there have been 17 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.– including Lincoln (1860), Wilson (1912 and 1916), Truman (1948), Kennedy (1960), Nixon (1968), Clinton (1992 and 1996), and Trump.

    Americans do not view the absence of run-offs in the current system as a major problem. If, at some time in the future, the public demands run-offs, that change can be implemented at that time.

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