The Case for Dumping the Electoral College

from The New Yorker

In 1961, Estes Kefauver, the crusading Democratic senator from Tennessee, denounced the Electoral College as “a loaded pistol pointed at our system of government.” Its continued existence, he said, as he opened hearings on election reform, created “a game of Russian roulette” because, at some point, the antidemocratic distortions of the College could threaten the country’s integrity. Judging from Twitter’s obsessions, at least, that hour may be approaching. The polls indicate that Donald Trump is likely to win fewer votes nationally than Joe Biden this fall, just as he won fewer than Hillary Clinton, in 2016. Yet Trump may still win reëlection, since the Electoral College favors voters in small and rural states over those in large and urban ones. Last week, a new book by Bob Woodward revealed how Trump lied, in the early weeks of the pandemic, about the severity of the coronavirus, even though that put American lives at risk; the thought that a reëlected Trump might feel triumphantly af­firmed in such mendacity is terrifying. But criticizing the Electoral College simply because it has given us our Trump problem would be misguided. His Presidency, and the chance that it will recur despite his persistent unpopularity, reflects a deeper malignancy in our Constitution, one that looks increas­ingly unsustainable.

James Madison, who helped conceive the Electoral College at the Constitutional Convention, of 1787, later admitted that delegates had written the rules while impaired by “the hurry­ing influence produced by fatigue and impatience.” The system is so buggy that, between 1800 and 2016, according to Alexander Keyssar, a rigorous historian of the institution, members of Congress introduced more than eight hundred constitutional amendments to fix its technical problems or to abolish it altogether. In much of the postwar era, strong majorities of Americans have favored dumping the College and adopting a direct national election for President. After Kefauver’s hearings, during the civil-rights era, this idea gained momentum until, in 1969, the House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment to establish a national popular vote for the White House. President Richard Nixon called it “a thoroughly acceptable reform,” but a filibuster backed by segregationist Southerners in the Senate killed it.

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23 Comments

  1. The debate when it comes to the Electoral College has always sparked my interest, and I have never known what the best possible solution for it could be. The reason that this is such an important topic because it affects the vote of the people and our voices. Our votes give us a voice in our government, and we get to have a say about who gets elected to the courts of our government. So, the way that we vote affects how much of a voice we really have. Unfortunately, with the Electoral College, some people have more of a voice than others. People who live in a state that is less populated have a bigger impact on whether their state is “blue” or “red”, meanwhile someone who lives in a highly populated state has less of an impact on it. The last election in 2016 was Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton. Trump had lost the popular vote in our country, meaning more people voted for Clinton, yet Trump still won because he had more electoral votes. Now, I agree with the fact that more populated places should have a bigger impact than smaller ones, but I am not sure if states are the correct way to address our voting problem. Another problem with this system is the Senators of each state have way too much power. The Senators have the final say of the vote for the state they are Senators of. So, if the Democrats win New Jersey by popular vote, the Senators can still choose to vote for the Republican party. That is way too much power for these Senators and that needs to be changed. That idea was originally implemented because it was thought that these Senators would be more educated and would be able to make a better decision than the people. I think that is what this country is not about. This country is about the people, and the people should be able to make these decisions. One of the other most popular options is to just elect people based on the popular vote. As I read this article, I thought it was interesting when it stated “…in 1969, the House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment to establish a national popular vote for the White House. President Richard Nixon called it ‘a thoroughly acceptable reform,’ but a filibuster backed by segregationist Southerners in the Senate killed it.” While the electoral college does have many problems, it is hard to tell if popular vote would be the best way to vote. Would we suffer the consequences if people are voting without knowledge of the candidates? People tend to vote on emotion rather than facts and ideologies. This is a tricky subject and in order to fix it we must be careful, because voting is a huge part of what America is about and our right to free speech.

  2. I disagree with Democratic senator Estes Kefauver. He believes the Electoral College is a threat to democracy, which I believe it to be the opposite. It appears to me that any time which a president whom someone does not want in office is elected, the go-to scenario is to blame the system which our fundamentals are based on, rather than accept that a fair representation of others have a different opinion. The Electoral College is not a recently passed bill; it was established in our Constitution. As of 2016, there has only been five instances which a candidate won the presidential election through the electoral college, despite losing the popular vote. One of these cases was in 2016, with Donald Trump prevailing over Hillary Clinton, which stirred up the age-old complaint that typically follows with, “the Electoral College is not fair! Why should the popular vote not decide who is elected? There is no reason for an Electoral College.” Meanwhile, in nearly every election in presidential history, this complaint is uttered and regurgitated beyond annoyance by the ‘losing’ side.

    The notion that the Electoral College “favors” rural communities opposed to urban areas is ludicrous. Simply take a look at how many electoral votes a state such as California has: 55. Then, compare that to South Dakota: 3. These numbers are not merely coincidental; they are a representation of the population of their respective state. For example, consider the over thirty-nine million residents of California, then the measly 800,000 residents of South Dakota. The math speaks volumes. For example, this is how many states (from lowest to highest number of electoral votes) that would have to vote in order to compete against the two largest states by electoral votes (California, 55, and Texas, 36): Montana (3), North Dakota (3), Wyoming (3), South Dakota (3), Alaska (3), Hawaii (3), Vermont (3), Delaware (3), Washington, D.C. (3), Maine (3), Indiana (4), New Hampshire (4), Rhode Island (4), New Mexico (5), Nebraska (5), West Virginia (5), Nevada (6), Utah (6), Kansas (6), Iowa (6), and Arizona (6). Altogether, the plethora of states total eighty-seven electoral votes. That is still four less than Texas and California’s combined ninety-one electoral votes. Thus, the electoral college does not seem to inherently display bias in favor of rural areas; in fact, some may argue the inverse concern.

    Those that oppose the electoral college are unaware that it prevents the most urban areas in our nation from deciding who is elected President of the United States of America, in every instance. Without the electoral college, New York, California, Florida, Texas, and Illinois would ultimately determine who is elected each election. Due to the large influence of liberalism and leftist ideas spreading throughout large, urban cities, the elected candidate would almost certainly be a Democrat. The other forty-five states, the majority being under Republican influence, would have no say nor would they ever be capable of voting. This is not a racial issue. Arguing that the majority of minorities that live in populous areas are underrepresented by the College because it has less power in the College per capita undermines the entire premise of the College itself. It was not created to tally the number of people who voted for one side or another, but instead even out the imbalance in population among the states. Who wants to live in a democratic republic when your entire state plays almost no roll in every presidential election since the birth of the country? Ultimately, the Electoral College is the most balanced system we have seen and thus used.

  3. The debate surrounding the democratic value of the Electoral College, and the possibility of demolishing it, has always been one that I’ve had a strong investment in. I personally agree with the statements made by senator Kefauver. Democracy at its core is focused on the idea of the government operating on the wants of the people of a nation, implying the majority of the population. Having a system set in place where there is a possibility that what the majority of what a population wants is outweighed by a system that works off of a gimmick is a direct threat to the core values of true democracy. As Coll stated, President Trump has strayed far from the expectations of the president, whether it be lying about the current pandemic, failing to put a conceivable end to the same pandemic, running the country like a business, and making a plethora of uneducated comments. This has led to the projected polls showing him losing the popular vote, so why keep a system that may allow him to sneak back into the White House by the skin of his teeth?

    If the Electoral College is as good of a system as its supporters believe, why have there been over eight hundred amendments recommended since its birth? Coll states that a majority have supported abolishing the college, and a bill was even passed through the House that would do just that, yet it has not happened. In my eyes, that there is already a direct threat to Democracy; the people want the College gone, yet it still remains. The times of slavery within the United States show a perfect representation of how flawed the college is. The three-fifths compromise, along with the College, practically guaranteed that “the people’s” choice for president would realistically be the white people’s choice. That is not entirely false today. As Coll states, the majority of minorities live in populated states, which have far less pull in the College. The example given comparing Wyoming and California represents this well, for in that case, one person in Wyoming has a vote that is over three times more influential than one in California. For those wishing to do the math, that makes one vote in California worth less than one third of a vote in Wyoming, or about half of the power a three-fifths compromise would have granted.

    After all of this, the only defense in favor of the Electoral College would be along the lines of, “It made my choice win.” Even President Trump said in an interview that he thought the popular vote should be the deciding factor, that is until he realized he only won the election because of the College. Now his front office conveniently supports the College. The concept of the College favors those predominantly white states, which now more than ever is only going to cause a greater divide within our nation. The United States needs to move toward unity, not farther from it. If the nation wants to protect Democracy in its truest form, the Electoral College should be abolished. The popular vote is the best way to ensure that the government is run by the candidate who the people want, and the candidate that will best represent the country’s diverse population, not just the portion of it with a certain skin tone or background.

  4. I agree with Senator Estes Kefauver, and his case for dumping the electoral college. I think the system is extremely outdated, and needs to be changed. Ultimately the electoral college results in the only states that matter are the swing states. This makes people that live in dominantly red or blue states feel as though their vote does not matter. I am from New York, which is not a swing state and is considered a blue state, what gives people motivation to vote knowing that because the majority of people in New York will vote for the democrat why should they even bother voting. I also thing if the
    United States wants to say we live in a democratic country the voting system needs to be switched to a popular vote. It is not fair that the candidate who gets the most votes is not the candidate that is elected president. The electoral college is also not fair, because it favors certain demographics while discriminating against others. The Electoral College needs to be abolished and the popular vote needs to be the one deciding factor on who is voted president.

  5. I remember the night of the 2016 election, seeing that Donald Trump won the presidency, and thinking, “How could this have happened with everything he said and did?” One of the areas I looked into viewing this question was the electoral college. I realized how flawed the Electoral College was in my research from the structure and how smaller states benefited in erroneous proportions to larger states. Steve Coll’s article, “The Case for Dumping the Electoral College,” expertly summed up my main concerns of the Electoral College, including the dilution of diverse voters and the imbalance of power amongst the states.

    One of the points Coll points out in his article is that the Electoral College generates swing states that decide the election, unfairly favoring power to those states. I notice this as presidential candidates increase efforts in states like Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, etc. while not trying to persuade voters in the more partisan-locked states like Washington or Alabama. Thus, red voters in Washington or blue voters in Alabama feel disenfranchised which Coll writes would be fixed by the abolition of the Electoral College. More specifically, he writes, “If the National Popular Vote plan ever succeeds…it would fix the most egregious deficit: the undermining of one person, one vote” (Coll).

    Another excellent point coming from Coll’s article concerns the lessening of diverse voters’ impact on the Electoral College. I noticed through reading the article and watching the reasons politicians defend the Electoral College that the protecting small states defense sheds light on how people view the country’s demographics. I understand wanting to make sure each state is not over- or underrepresented in electing our leader, but I feel too much power gets put into states with less votes and those states are majority caucasian, like Wyoming, Kansas, and the Dakotas. States like New York, California, and Texas, I feel, represent America better as a collective because of their diversity. As mentioned in the article, making the presidential vote based on a national vote gives sides more incentives to appeal to large swaths of the nation, instead of appealing to separate parts of the country. This way, Democrats can appeal to the Southern states by pointing out ways to lift them out of poverty, and Republicans would be more incentivized to diversify and appeal to voters on both coasts. While I favor making sure the small states have their voices heard, the drawbacks of the Electoral College far outweigh the benefits, and a system created by middle-aged white men who owned slaves, disregarded women, and took little effort to help people out of poverty should be revised and restructured to better represent our continually evolving culture.

  6. I still remember my high school career, and one of the more memorable moments of that is the day before the 2016 election and the day when Donald Trump was certified to be the winner. The reason this is so memorable to me is because of the various reactions my peers and teachers had to this. My high school is Barrington High School, which is in Rhode Island, a state that by and large votes Democrat. There were a lot of “I’m With Her” bumper stickers, and the few Trump supporters with MAGA hats did exist, but were sometimes bullied. When Trump won however, the power dynamic of the whole school shifted. Suddenly those same kids who were bullied and sidelined now had the opportunity to enact the reverse, and they did. At the time I had a vague understanding of the election process, and for the life of me did not understand how a candidate who lost the popular vote could win the presidency. While I had heard about the electoral college beforehand, it was never even a consideration in my mind, as I just assumed it would always follow the popular vote at all times. Reading this article by Steve Coll reminds me of this period in my life, of whenever I would think I knew how the U.S. government works, I was really dealing with a phantom of what I thought it really was. Because of my bewilderment of having the less popular candidate win, my opinion on the electoral college is a negative one, believing it to sap the validity of elections away from being in the hands of its constituents. Mr. Coll’s article did little to sway my feelings on this topic, on the contrary, he reinforced them remarkably. The role that the founding fathers gave to the electoral college was twofold. It was supposed to represent states rights, and also preventing what they feared as the uneducated masses from controlling the future of government too much. Back then(and still today) classism and racism influenced policies involving normal civilians, and the fear of getting too much control into the voting public has always been a fear of those in power. That’s why we have seen things like the three-fifths laws, the Jim Crow laws, and the heavy resistance to the nineteenth amendment. But with today’s education and methods of communication, voters are more likely to be informed on candidates now than in the late 1700s.
    Ironically enough, the voting public of the 2016 election did actually make the choice the founders would have probably approved of, that being a former Secretary of State, as Donald Trump lost the popular vote but won the electoral votes. Simply put, the idea of giving states more power is not a bad idea, but undermining the biggest way the American public has to influence government, through its vote, is not the way to go about it.

  7. The debate between keeping the electoral college or switching to a popular vote is an argument I have always been interested in and I can see the benefits of both sides. I have found myself arguing both in favor and against the electoral college. While going to a popular vote system would certainly have benefits, including balancing out the power of rural states and giving every American’s vote the same weight, the electoral college ensures that cities don’t gain too much influence over elections and the Electoral College forces candidates to appeal to Americans in all corners of the country. Some voters would stand to gain from a popular vote and others would see their vote lose weight. The article states that voting power strongly favors rural states, “This year, heavily white Wyoming will cast three electoral votes, or about one per every hundred and ninety thousand residents; diverse California will cast fifty-five votes, or one per seven hundred and fifteen thousand people.” (Coll). A popular vote would make a vote from California more than 3 times more powerful and the opposite for those in Wyoming. A popular vote would also help voters in red and blue states who vote for the minority party. For example, living in New Jersey, which is a blue state, my vote will not really count if I do not vote for Joe Biden. A popular vote would allow all Americans vote to count equally regardless of where they live. The argument over the electoral college has sifted to a left and right issue because of the growing number of democrat voters.
    The article mentions how President Nixon, a republican, was in favor of going to a popular vote in 1969. The reason that the electoral college issue has become a republican and democrat issue is that it would almost impossible for republicans to win a national election without the electoral college. In 2016 Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and Joe Biden could very well win the popular vote in this upcoming election. Democrats have a fair shot at winning in the current system, but they know they would win without contest with a popular vote. Republicans have realized this, and it has sparked strong opposition to the electoral college. There is no better example than the President himself as right after the election he was still in favor of the popular vote, “A few days after the 2016 election, Trump told Lesley Stahl, of “60 ­Minutes,” that he had “respect” for the Electoral College, but would “rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get one hundred million votes, and somebody else gets ninety million votes, and you win.” (Coll). Trump has walked back on this statement since, knowing without the electoral college Hillary Clinton would be in the oval office.

  8. Knowing how the Electoral College works, I know that when presidential elections come around, my vote really does not make much of a difference with deciding who the next president will be. New Jersey is a democrat state and in elections, the democrat nominee always gets the 14 electoral votes from the state. Because of the way the Electoral College is set up, it is always easy to tell which nominee is going to win each state. Out of the 50 states, many of them often choose the same side election after election and it always comes down to the “swing states.”
    The United States is a democracy where the people choose their government officials by election. However, I feel as if the Electoral College contradicts that statement. If it was really up to the people to decide who the next president will be, shouldn’t the election go off the popular vote instead? If it went off of the popular vote, I believe more people would go out and vote in the presidential election because they would be feel that their vote truly makes a difference in the decision. In 2016, Donald Trump won the Electoral College, but lost the popular vote. Being that states like California and New York are mainly democrat, he did not even bother campaigning a lot in those states because he knew that those votes would not make a difference. If the Electoral College were removed and it went off of the popular vote, I believe presidential nominees would change their campaign strategies completely. Instead of focusing on party and swing states, nominees would focus on all of the 50 states to try and sway voters to vote for them.
    While many people are against the Electoral College, including myself, I do not think the way Americans vote will be changed anytime soon. The Electoral College has been a part of our country for hundreds of years. To change that would take a lot of time and work. Many people argued to remove it after the 2016 election, but as we see today, nothing has been done to change anything.
    This 2020 presidential election is the first election I get to be a part of. This election might be one of the most important elections of all time. While people still might think their vote does not matter, I would still encourage everyone to go out and vote. It might not matter in states like New Jersey and California, but the swing states are crucial for deciding the fate of the 2020 election.

  9. The debate over the electoral college has always interested me as I find the opposing point of view to be quite feeble. While the electoral college is ingrained in the United States Constitution, I personally believe it to be counterproductive. While the argument of who has won the election with the help of the electoral college is relevant, I believe it to be a non-factor. Only five candidates have won as a result of electoral college, yet two out of the five happen to be the most controversial presidents in modern times. More specifically, the election of 2016 including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The electoral college essentially allows states with insignificant populations have almost equal representation. This is incredibly reckless as these states include Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and many more. These states generally have incredibly disproportionate votes that swing to the right based on these states values and industry. These states generally tend to have less regard for the betterment and progressive of America as some would consider these states to be stuck in a “Different time”. Many of these states also happen to have on average, much older populations as younger people tend to flee these states to more progressive states such as New York and California. This being said, the electoral college is incredibly important the citizens of these states as their values and politics are the complete opposite of blue states. The electoral college is important to these states as blue states tend to have larger populations, yet this is saying something. People opt into living in New York, New Jersey, California, etc. as the appeal is greater. Meaning the environment of these states must be intrinsically better.
    The electoral college essentially gives an equal voting power to those who have old fashioned and generally conservative views which truthfully, I cannot get behind. While personally I don’t necessarily believe in the two-party system, conservative Americans tend to denounce the “Greater good” of the country. This is apparent in the party’s ideas involving immigration, religion, and education which are ingrained in the ideals of America. The popular vote is much more important as states like Texas and Florida, which generally swing right, have very large numbers of Republicans. Voting should be equal for both parties, however giving Oklahoma the same influence as a state such as Connecticut is irresponsible as Connecticut is a much more influential state with its proximity to New York and its superior educational system. I agree there needs to be a somewhat equal playing field for voting, but I would not consider the electoral college to be the answer.

  10. After reading the article, I was quite shocked at the history of the Electoral College and what it was designed to represent. Prior to reading the article, I had known the Electoral College as the “group” that truly decides who will be elected President and not much about its past. Interestingly enough, like most things in America, the founding of the Electoral College was rooted in racism, and it is still disproportionately affecting the voting power of minority groups. In an attempt of fairness, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact was developed and implemented in fifteen states and the District of Columbia, however, there is clearly much more to be done for the governed citizens to have greater power in electing their leader. Many are calling for an extreme amendment to the rules regarding the Electoral College, or its total abolishment, which I believe would be quite fair, as it will ultimately allow for all Americans to truly have a hand in deciding the future of the country. Additionally, the concept turned established election group was written at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and not carefully considered and meticulously reviewed, which was admitted by James Madison. I would also like to call attention to the fact that Donald Trump was very supportive of the popular vote being the ultimate decider of the election until the Electoral College went against the popular vote and ensured his election as president in 2016. In the article, the author also discusses the difficulties that are to arise, as a result of Donald Trump winning the 2016 election and the stronger support for this system from the Republican Party. Simply, this expresses the idea that the benefit of the system seems more important that its equitability.

    Personally, I do not agree with the idea of the Electoral College because it is a clear representation of everything that is wrong and unfair in America. For a country that considers itself to be equal and free, there are systems still set in place that are over 200 years old that are particularly harmful and unjust to people of color. The White Nationalism in American is quite clear and the government’s support of these institutionalized procedures consistently proves that there is a higher priority placed on protecting the government, as opposed to the governed.

  11. The previous Presidential Election of 2016 has shown many that were not aware before that Electoral College is the deciding factor of who becomes president rather than the individual votes of the people. Republican Donald Trump technically had fewer individual votes than Democratic Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election. However, the real deciding factor was the Electoral College that decided, in favor, towards Donald Trump winning the 2016 Presidential Election.

    The Electoral College has been put in place for many years, dating back to the Founding Fathers. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton first created the Electoral College because they were afraid that people who were not educated enough to make a good decision. They also wanted to allow smaller states to have more of an impact to the election because otherwise presidential campaigns would only need to happen in highly dense populations to win the election. It would also eliminate any calls for recounts or demands for run off elections.

    But some of the reasonings for the Electoral College have since been phased out. In today’s time and day, everyone has access to digital media. With newspapers becoming extinct, the news about the presidential election is readily accessible for everyone to view. In this context, this means that Madison and Hamilton’s claim that the general public do not have the access to make an informed decision is no longer valid due to modern technology. Furthermore, there is always the argument that the Electoral College worked in one party’s favor when the winning side had fewer individual votes than the losing side.

    To say that we no longer need the Electoral College to decide the decision for the presidential election would be a stretch and too aggressive. What the better alternative solution to this problem would be to revise the Electoral College. An example could be alternating when we should use the Electoral Votes of the States. If the individual votes are withing 1 million difference between each other, the Electoral Votes would be used instead of relying on the individual vote. This would allow the individual voters to have a stronger say while still eliminating any calls for recounts.

  12. The previous Presidential Election of 2016 has shown many that were not aware before that Electoral College is the deciding factor of who becomes president rather than the individual votes of the people. Republican Donald Trump technically had fewer individual votes than Democratic Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election. However, the real deciding factor was the Electoral College that decided, in favor, towards Donald Trump winning the 2016 Presidential Election.

    The Electoral College has been put in place for many years, dating back to the Founding Fathers. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton first created the Electoral College because they were afraid that people who were not educated enough to make a good decision. They also wanted to allow smaller states to have more of an impact to the election because otherwise presidential campaigns would only need to happen in highly dense populations to win the election. It would also eliminate any calls for recounts or demands for run off elections.

    But some of the reasonings for the Electoral College have since been phased out. In today’s time and day, everyone has access to digital media. With newspapers becoming extinct, the news about the presidential election is readily accessible for everyone to view. In this context, this means that Madison and Hamilton’s claim that the general public do not have the access to make an informed decision is no longer valid due to modern technology. Furthermore, there is always the argument that the Electoral College worked in one party’s favor when the winning side had fewer individual votes than the losing side.

    To say that we no longer need the Electoral College to decide the decision for the presidential election would be a stretch and too aggressive. What the better alternative solution to this problem would be to revise the Electoral College. An example could be alternating when we should use the Electoral Votes of the States. If the individual votes are within 1 million difference between each other, the Electoral Votes would be used instead of relying on the individual vote. This would allow the individual voters to have a stronger say while still eliminating any calls for recounts.

  13. The Idea of doing away with the electoral college comes up in almost every election cycle. Many Americans find the idea of the popular vote not deciding the election to be very unethical. This is due to what American it’s self was built to stand for. Our country was founded on the ideals that the government should be run by the people, for the people. However many do not realize that this is not 100% accurate to the form of government that was chosen by our founders. Our founders created what is called the Federal Constitution Republic. This means that our country is a collection of states which elect representatives to govern them. When it comes to our election a similar process takes place. Each county gets a specific number of delegates. The counties then decided which candidate the state will vote for. This system was put into place to ensure that an election could not be one by just the majority of the population in a select few states. Instead, every state would be able to get represented in the election.
    This was heavily shown in the last election with President Trump vs. Hilary Clinton. While Hilary did win the popular vote she failed to win the election because President Trump was able to win more states, hence more delegates then Hilary was able to. It is well known that the majority of the United States population lives along the east and west coasts. Hilary was able to secure the popular vote by campaigning in these areas. However, you will see that most of the rest of the United States voted for President Trump. If we did not have the electoral college the few coastal states we are enough to secure a presidency. All a candidate would have to do would to win the votes of citizens in large cities and along the coasts. Meaning Americans in every other part of the continent would not be able to have their voices heard. In conclusion, I think the electoral college was a great idea to help make sure that the voices of all Americans are heard and counted in the presidential election. Without it, in place, you would see great unrest where people will feel as if their voices are not being heard just because they do not live in a major city.

  14. With today’s hyper-partisan politics, a reform, let alone removal, of the Electoral College would be a small miracle. Unfortunately, a person’s political leanings, rather than a rigid ideology or critical review of its implications, mainly influences his or her opinion of the Electoral College. Republicans love it because it has benefited them numerous times, but they would most likely have hated it if had helped Democrats.
    The electoral college dominates political debates now because two of the five times a candidate has won the presidency, despite losing the popular vote, have occurred in the past two decades. Before the 2000 Bush vs Gore election, the last time this happened was in 1888. For younger voters, two of the three or four presidents they can remember first got into the White House by the rules of the Electoral College, not by the popular vote.
    The main point of contention seems to be that when you divide a States’ populations by their amount of allocated electoral votes, their “population per electoral vote” ratios are not equal. Meaning that an individual’s vote is more diluted in certain States, typically those with a large population concentrated in urban areas. Each State’s “population per electoral vote” could be made equal by reducing how many Representatives each state gets.
    The reason why each state gets at least three electoral votes is that the number of electoral votes must equal the number of Senators and Representatives send to Congress. Each State gets two Senators and must have at least one Representative, regardless of its population. But there are only so many seats one can fit in the chamber, so it was decided that the number of Representatives nationwide would be capped at 435. As redrawing districts for every election would be tedious, 435 is also treated as the fixed amount as well.

  15. I think an article like this is especially relevant in society today. Not just because of the upcoming election, but also due to the tremendous pressure that our society is putting on its citizens to vote. On many social media platforms, such as instagram and twitter, there are ads telling users to register to vote, with instructions on how to do so. If you watch the NBA like I do, you will see players warming up pregame with shirts that have the word “VOTE” written across the front. I find these interesting because I was watching sports and on social media long before I had the ability to vote. For this reason, I think it’s a good message that the NBA and social media are trying to emphasize the importance of voting even to those who do not have the ability to do so right now. Connecting this to the article, I feel as though, with all of this advocacy for voting, it is important to note that not everyone’s vote holds the same weight. With the electoral college, not all votes are created equal. Because of this, as we saw in 2016, the candidate with the greater number of votes can end up as the loser in the election. This article showed me how the government is trying to fix this issue when it said “The system is so buggy that, between 1800 and 2016, according to Alexander Keyssar, a rigorous historian of the institution, members of Congress introduced more than eight hundred constitutional amendments to fix its technical problems or to abolish it altogether.” I feel like the first step is recognizing the issue with the electoral college, so the fact that the government is attempting to fix it is an encouraging sign. The biggest thing I took away from this article is how close the government was to establishing a popular vote, only for it to be shut down by segregationists. That, to me, is evidence of the conclusion that “the centrality of race and racism in any convincing explanation of the Electoral College’s staying power.” It seems to me that, as long as each vote in this country is not equal, voting will not have the affect that people want it to have.

  16. The Electoral College is an out of date and obsolete form of voting. Its formation was based on racism, allowing the three-fifths compromise. Slaves were not allowed to vote but were partially taken into the population count in order to benefit slave states. This took power away from other states that were not promoting oppression. Today, the Electoral College continues to promote the oppression of minorities. States that are highly populated disproportionally with minorities account for less electoral votes than highly white populated states. The people in the country who are being oppressed do not have the same voice in the polls as the non-oppressed.

    President Donald Trump would not be in office without the Electoral College. In the 2016 election, he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton but won the electoral vote. There is a possibility of this happening again in the upcoming election, which would get him reelected. The people of the country did not choose Donald Trump to be president, the Electoral College did. Before the election, he himself said he would “rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get one hundred million votes, and somebody else gets ninety million votes, and you win.” After the election, the Republican party overwhelmingly transitioned from supporting the popular vote to supporting the Electoral College. Just because the system worked in his favor, does not mean it is not still corrupt.

    As Kefauver stated, the Electoral College is a symbol of distrust of the people. It belittles peoples, especially minorities, votes. The College was built on suppression and will continue to suppress the people who need their voices heard the most. The bias involved with the Electoral College will make it difficult to dismantle it, since the people whose party it favors tend to support it. Whether it supports your political party or not, it is a clearly biased and corrupt system.

  17. The electoral college is a topic in which the debate on it normally starts to pick up around the time of the presidential election. The reason it was made such a big deal in 2016 is that Donald Trump did not win the popular vote of the United States, but actually won the electoral vote and therefore was named the president of the United States. The way I see it I feel as though the United States should amend their constitution and get rid of the electoral vote altogether. The electoral vote was originally brought about to help the slave owning states of the South get more of a say in the government. To make up for the number of slaves this is where the 3/5ths rule comes about. I feel as though the popular vote is the best way to choose who becomes the president because the way I see it the electoral vote is flawed in many ways. For instance, in some states the electors decide who in fact receives the electoral votes. So even if the people decide that they indeed want one candidate the electors can rearrange that decision however they see fit. This leads to an improper representation of the states ideals and decision. The way I see it is the electoral system takes the vote away from the people and puts it into the hands of the lower governments. To best represent the people of the United States we need to make our presidential decisions based on what the people would obviously like to see. People don’t go and register to vote, take the time to mail or walk to the ballots themselves, just to have their vote not truly be represented as a measure of themselves. Because of this I feel as though the electoral system should be abolished.

  18. The Electoral College has always brought a bit of dissonance into my thoughts whenever it was brought to my attention. However, hearing that its formation was created with flaws out of a hurried attempt at leaving the Constitutional Convention (in the words of James Madison) worries me. The problem areas were specifically pointed out in this article as well as a potential solution that several states have adopted.

    Much of the problems come from the disproportionate number of electors in each state based on the population to representative ratio. Hypothetically, if California were to have a representative for every 700,000 citizens then you would expect Wyoming to have a representative for every 700,000. However, the way the college is formed is not based on that. Wyoming would (and does) have a representative for a number closer to every 200,000 citizens. That is where the problem comes because lesser populated states have a greater ratio of power. The odds are skewed in their favor and thus a presidential nominee with lesser popular votes can win. The ratio stems back to the policy makers considering the three-fifths compromise, steeping this form of election in an outdated, racist platform. The 2016 election is a good representation of that very discrepancy between popular votes and the electoral college. The question becomes, what is the point if a majority of the voting population is disappointed?

    One solution that the author, Steve Coll, brings up is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This bill would make it so the electoral college members of the state must vote for the candidate that receives the popular vote in that state. A handful of states have adopted a solution similar. I think something akin to this legislation needs to occur as the unpopular vote should not consistently be a worrying thought in the minds of the American people. The system is outdated and severely pulled in the favor of low dense population states.

  19. I always wondered why we could not get rid of the Electoral College because it undermines our democracy. While I think it is still extremely important to vote, I do not see why it is important in those states where the electors do not pledge to vote for the candidate who wins the majority. Millions of people could vote one way and a handful of people get to decide otherwise. I think the statement “..a presidential election decided by the popular vote might very well improve our rancid politics” because there is no doubt in my mind that statement is true. If the College did not exist, we would currently have a different president, there likely would not be such a harsh party divide over every decision made in politics, and there generally would not be as much hate propelled in the media. When the current administration came in is when I really started paying attention to politics, but I strongly believe that what we have now is a big step down from before.

    Having election results that are based solely on the results of the popular vote would also give people of color (POC) more of an advantage to participate in and make changes to a government that has suppressed them since this country was founded. As the article states, POC are represented more in urban areas than in rural areas, therefore having only a handful of people decide for them who should be elected impacts them negatively.

    The upcoming election makes me nervous because I believe that electors will probably vote in favor of Trump again while the majority of Americans vote the other way. Even though eliminating the Electoral College is a long and difficult process, I think it needs to be done or else American politics will not accurately represent American values.

  20. I agree with Senator Estes Kefauver, and his idea of dumping the Electoral College. I believe the Electoral College has too much power in deciding who becomes president, compared to the people of the nation who go out and vote. I agree that more populated states should have more power over less populated states when it comes to voting, but its almost seen as the peoples votes really don’t matter. A candidate can lose the popular vote, and still be elected president if they win the electoral vote. This incident happened in 2016, when President Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, but won the electoral votes. I understand this is the historic way of how a candidate wins the presidential election, but I believe it is out dated and should be changed. I do not have a solution to this issue, but I think the popular vote should hold more power. Another issue with the electoral college is the power the Senators have in each states. For example, if the state of New Jersey’s popular vote was for the republican candidate, but the Senators were democrat, they can choose that the vote for New Jersey is democrat. I am sure this has happened in the past, and I think that the popular vote should be the way that the state goes. It would be interesting to see how many elections would be different if the electoral college wasn’t a thing, and only the popular vote mattered. We might not live to ever see that, but I believe a change should be made with how the electoral college is ran, and the power it holds.

  21. The Electoral College was always interesting to me, but I never quite understood it fully. It is quite scary that we may face the same issue with the Electoral College in 2020 with Biden and Trump, just how we did with H. Clinton and Trump in 2016. I think that it is very flawed that the system favors small, rural states instead of large, urban ones. Personally, after these last 4 years, I think that Trump has lied to us enough and I am ready for the electoral college to have a change constitutionally. The first flaw of the Electoral College is that it was poorly constructed, to begin with. James Madison admitted himself that they wrote the rules impaired by fatigue and impatience. The statistic about there being 800 proposed amendments is very mind-blowing and is a perfect example of why it needs to be revamped. The largest flaw about this whole system is how it dilutes the votes of African Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans because they live disproportionately in populous states, which have less power in the college. I am not surprised, but this is yet another example of how people of color are being targeted for the white man’s gain. Amendment 15, Section 1 of the constitution states that it is the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. White people do not have the power to just not let us vote, so they create a system that dilutes our votes because of where we live. This country is so racist and corrupt in so many ways, and this system is just another example of that. I believe that votes should count for what they are worth, as the popular vote. I do not know where it makes sense that the person who gets the most votes loses. This is a battle that has been fought for a long time and I do not foresee any changes until it does not help them as much. I hope that one day everyone can see what is wrong with this system and they either revamp it or abolish it.

  22. I agree with Senator Estes Kefauver, I think that the system is outdated and needs a revamp. Senator Kefauver said that the electoral college is ”a loaded pistol pointed at our system of government.” I think that Senator Kefauver is right because if anyone can abuse the electoral college and stay and office that could negatively affect our country. The polls show that Joe Biden is favored to win the election, but as we saw in 2016 anything can happen. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular election, but Donald Trump was elected president because he won the electoral college. People think that he may win in a similar fashion in the upcoming election. A few days after the election, President Trump said that he did not mind the electoral college, but he would “rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get one hundred million votes, and somebody else gets ninety million votes, and you win.” I personally agree with President Trump that a popular vote would be much easier. Also, most countries in the world have popular votes, and it would not be too hard of a switch either. Also, in 2012, 54% of the republican favored to replace the electoral college with a national popular vote. Today only one third of the republicans hold this view. And if the Trump years, our democracy could be in trouble if he is reelected as Trump with a republican senate and conservative Supreme Court could be a very lethal combination for our country. The article then goes on to take jabs at President Trump and finishes off with saying that the Electoral College stands for “distrust of the people” and “an artifact of racial injustice.” Personally, I thought that the author’s choice to end the article with a question incites a feeling of doing. It made me ponder and think about what may happen in the future.

  23. The debate over the Electoral College is one that seems to resurface frequently, especially due to the 2016 and 2000 election results. The central argument revolves around federalism and the power of the states. The current Electoral College mathematically favors small states with the allocation of delegates. This is because the two senators of each state (who are used to count the total number of delegates per state) are more impactful in small states compared to delegates in large states. In essence, the per capita influence of delegates in small states is larger than that of large states.

    Now, those who support the Electoral College argue that by relying on a national popular vote we will be nationalizing politics and hindering the idea of federalism. Federalism is so important because it establishes the relationship between states and the federal government, giving the states their own responsibility (essentially allowing the states, not the people, to chose the President). Now, those who oppose the Electoral College see encroaching on federalism as an important step in making sure the President is chosen by the will of the people and not the states. It is interesting to note that the issue of small states vs. big states (despite the significant constitutional/historical importance) is significant in the current operations of the Senate. To elaborate, more voters nationally vote for Democratic Senators, yet the Senate is composed of a majority of Republicans. This is primarily because small states are entitled to the same number of Senators as big states, thus the abundance of Democrats who vote in populated states like California and New York are considered excess votes because their candidate simply needs a plurality to win (making many voters in populous states less important to their respective state race outcome). Now, in small southern states, which tend to go more conservative, fewer votes still result in that Senator winning. Basically, the general problem is that Democratic Senators in big states win with more votes than Republican Senators from small states, which equates to a national vote that favors Democrats (yet this isn’t reflected in the composition of the Senate). This disparity in the Senate is most certainly reflective of the argument that small states tend to have an electoral advantage, of sorts.

    The founders established the Electoral College for several reasons, among those were fears that an uneducated/biased electorate would not be informed about candidates. Also, there was concern about preventing the will of ‘the tyrannical majority’ from determining the course of politics. The founders were very skeptical of the national popular vote, something many argue as suitable for modern politics. Some may claim that these ideas are antiquated and that abolishing the Electoral College makes sense in modern society, however, another justification for keeping the system is that it relies upon broad approval from all states. It is worthy to note that the Electoral College ensures that a President doesn’t simply have support from only the populated coasts, but broad support of the country.

    On the other hand, as the article states, Electoral College abolitionists have recently developed an initiative called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which is an agreement between 15 states and the District of Columbia to cast their electoral votes for whichever candidate wins the national popular vote. This Compact has been reinforced by identical statewide bills in those 15 states. The author makes the interesting argument that if this compact was to ever come into effect, it would alleviate the undermining of the one-man-one-vote principle. In theory, a national popular vote reinforces the one-man-one-vote idea by giving each vote relevance and significance, whereas the Electoral College gives a slight statistical edge to voters in small states. However, by eliminating the Electoral College, we would be abandoning the advantage of broad support as well as the protections from a tyrannical majority. The Electoral College has also been criticized for essentially nullifying the strength of voters who are both not in swing states and who do not vote in line with how their state typically votes (for example, a Republican in New Jersey, or a Democrat in Alabama). A national popular vote would theoretically eliminate this problem.

    The criticism of nationalizing politics with a popular vote is that it would hamper the structure of federalism, and undermine the states. This is an interesting argument because currently Senators are elected by popular vote, but of course, this is only within the boundaries of each state. One might ask: if Congressmembers can be elected through a popular vote system and federalism be preserved, shouldn’t the same hold true for a President? And the simple answer is: it really depends on whom you ask, there’s no real answer here.

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