What’s Wrong With The Electoral College?

Sage Slessor, Staff Reporter

The electoral college is an undemocratic system, put in place hundreds of years ago to benefit the white minority in America.  Why do we still use it in our current elections?

Rather than elect our leaders with a popular vote, like countries such as France, America has put in place the electoral college.  The distortion of democracy and dilution of our votes.  A candidate needs a minimum of 270 electoral votes to win the presidency and each state provides a certain number of votes based on decisions and population numbers of the 18th century.  To be awarded electoral votes, you must win the popular vote in that state.  This is a “winner take all” process.  

The disconnect between the popular vote and the electoral college vote comes from the differences in the number of people represented per electoral vote among the states.  For example, Wyoming, with a population of 584,000 receives 3 electoral votes during the election.  In comparison to California, a population of 39 million but only 55 electoral votes. California’s population is 67x that of Wyoming, meaning each electoral vote from Wyoming carries 4x the weight of one electoral vote in California. (You vs the System)

The Wyoming/California comparison demonstrates how undemocratic the system can be- exemplifying how it shrinks the value of votes, how votes don’t all carry the same weight and how the value of your vote is determined by where you reside. In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election despite coming in second place and losing by a margin of 3 million votes to Hillary Clinton (Washington Post), he lost by 10% of the population. Nonetheless, he won the electoral college vote which is what gave him the presidency. Clearly, the EC disregards the popular vote, however, it is so important to understand that your vote still DOES matter, because each individual vote still affects the popular vote in your state. 

The distortion of our democracy comes from the way our elections are solely determined by a select few swing states; states that could be blue or red. The states that don’t swing, have less voter turnout and are less valued during campaigning under the logic that there is no changing the way they vote. With this information, it makes complete sense that the candidates don’t campaign anywhere but in the swing states.  The majority of money and time is spent in the states that could go either way.  This gives more value to those states compared to others, and awards them ALL the power to them during the election, putting the rest of the country on the sidelines during the indirect vote for president.  

200 years ago, the EC system was put in place by whites who enslaved Black Americans during the drafting and signing of the constitution as a last-minute compromise when deciding how to elect a leader.  The suggestion of a direct vote was shut down because they argued it was “too much democracy” in summary, not beneficial enough to the wealthy who enslaved people.  It helped white men keep their power, encouraged slavery and white supremacy, and incentivized increasing the number of enslaved people because they added to the population, awarding more EV in southern states despite lots of the population having no right to vote.  

To this day it still empowers southern white people, resulting in so many republican presidents who have lost the popular vote while winning the electoral vote.  Not only does the EC not uphold the values of equality, it plays a role in systematic racism.  Why is maybe the most influential system in our country rooted in slavery, and why have we not changed it alongside the times?  This leads to a whole other question of why do we hold the constitution to such high value when our country has come so far from the decision making of enslavers 200 years ago?  200 years and around 700 proposals to change but the constitution makes it almost impossible to do so, impossible to grow and give more power to our voters.

There are just not enough arguments to justify the EC, it is voter suppression at its finest and it sucks. And not unlike most topics, those whom it benefits-white southern voters-are the ones fighting to keep it.  How can we, as a country possibly progress when the way we elect our president is rooted in 18th-century logic and ideals of racism and slavery.