The Electoral College has been a topic of discussion ever since the election of 2000. When you rely on this system, there could easily be a different outcome in the electoral vote and the popular vote. With the Electoral College in place, some of Americans’ votes are basically worthless. When the Electoral College was put into place it was a solution to a problem of the 1780’s, now in the 21st century, all Americans should have a voice.
Although some people feel the Electoral College is just, the Electoral College is an unfair and outdated way of picking a President; the popular vote is the best way to elect a President in the best interest for the public. The Electoral College is a complicated system to understand. The Electoral College isn’t a place of higher education; it’s a group of 538 electors. The electors are made up of each states two senators and the 435 representatives from the House, given to each state proportionally, and 3 for the District of Columbia.
The candidate who wins the popular vote in each state is awarded that states electoral votes. For example, if a candidate won North Carolina, they would get fifteen electoral votes. However if a candidate won the popular vote in Delaware, they would only get three electoral votes. Some states are referred to as “landmine states” such as California and Texas with respectively fifty-five and thirty-eight electoral votes each. Nebraska and Maine are the only states with an exception. They do not award all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote.
Instead, these votes are “assigned by proportional representation”. This means the candidate that wins the popular vote gets two Electoral College votes from the senators, and the rest of the votes are given according to which candidate wins each “congressional district”. However, every other state is on a winner-take-all system. When the Electoral College was formed in 1845, the founding fathers thought it was necessary. The framers of the constitution thought the American public did not have the intelligence, education, and experience to pick the best leader.
They also thought it was a necessary check that gave the states a say in who the President should be, just in case the American people chose the wrong person. They also came up with this unique idea to help maintain a regional balance. In early America, most candidates couldn’t gather up enough support out of their own regions. They weren’t well known enough outside of their own region, so the Electoral College makes sure that candidates have to be well known in multiple areas to be elected President.
Hallowell says James Madison worried about a majority of people with a common interest banding together and doing something that could potentially harm the rest of America. This fear was called “tyranny of the majority”. Today, the Electoral College should be purely based on the popular vote. In modern times people are more educated and involved in politics. “It is one of the ironies of the 21st century that presidential elections in an Internet era can be decided by the Electoral College, a system set up by men who traveled on horseback and by clipper ship” (Mackay).
I elect my government to represent my opinions and beliefs, not to see what I have to say and end up doing what they think is best. I am an American and my vote should count just as much as all other Americans, what state I live in should have nothing to do with that. When this system was established, America was a group of 50 different states. Now, we are a union, and I should hope for my vote to count the same as everyone else’s. In a fair democracy, everyone’s votes should count equally.
But the method that the United States uses to elect its president violates this principle by making sure that some peoples votes count more than others. If the 538 Electoral College votes were split up equally among the population (309,000,000/ 538) then every votes would represent 574,000 people. But this is not what happens because the Electoral College only gives votes to states, not people. For example, there are 11. 5 million people in Ohio so to be fair they should get 20 votes. But the Electoral College doesn’t give Ohio 20 votes. It gives them eighteen.
Where did those other two votes go? Those votes go to states like Rhode Island. Rhode Island has 1. 1 million people in it, so it should have about 2 votes, but instead it gets four. Why? According to the rules of the Electoral College, every state, no matter how many people live there, each get three votes to start with, then the votes are redistributed. Because of this, a lot of states that don’t have that many citizens, and should only have one or two votes, now have three or four. This makes votes in some states count more than others.
For example, Alaska is a very small state but has 3 electoral votes, making the weight of their vote 2. 5. North Carolina however, who gave up two of their votes to make sure one of the smaller states had at least three, has 15 Electoral College votes, making each vote weighted at 0. 91 of a vote. A Vermonters vote, according to the Electoral College is equal to three Texans votes (Walbert, David). When you think about it, it’s unfair that a vote in Alaska counts more than a vote in California does; especially when this has to do with electing who our President is. However, Alaska makes a great case for the Electoral College.
Alaska is a huge state that is far away from the rest. “Alaska has unique interests” that deserve the same treatment as interests in New York and California. States such as Montana and North Dakota would agree, because, like Alaska, they are large states with slim populations (Walbert). If the whole point of the Electoral College is to give more voting power to the small states, so as to protect them from the big states, it is failing miserably. In the last two months of the 2008 Presidential Election, only eighteen states received even a single visit from a candidate.
Just two of those states have very small populations. So the Electoral College doesn’t make candidates care about small states (Mackay). The Electoral College makes the campaigning for the Presidency very focused on just a few states. These are called “battleground states”. The outcome of the elections in these states could decide the entire race. Because of the way this method pans out, there is “virtually no campaign” in states that already have an obvious winner like “Kerry with Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and Bush with Texas and Utah” in the 2004 election (Mackay).