Abolish the College!

5 reasons why it’s time to abandon the Electoral College system.

Isabella Janney, Staff Writer

As many of you are aware, the past election between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was an extremely close race. Even though Trump managed to clinch the win, it was actually Clinton who had the support of more voters (about 3 million more than Trump!). How is that possible? It was because of the Electoral College, a controversial system that dates back to the beginning of our political organization as a country, that Trump was able to win the election without winning the popular vote.


To better understand the feasibility of this occurrence, we should start at the beginning: What IS the Electoral College? In an article from The Huffington Post, the Electoral College is described as being: “made up of 538 electors who cast votes to decide the President and Vice-President of the United States. When voters go to the polls…they will be choosing which candidate receives their state’s electoral votes. The candidate who receives a majority of electoral votes (270) wins the Presidency”. This representative form of government was originally established because the Founding Fathers didn’t trust the people of the US to not be swayed by extraneous and insignificant things prior to the election and therefore make an uneducated or uninformed vote. Their solution, however, is riddled with the irony of many problems, including electing candidates who don’t win the popular vote.


These are 5 pressing reasons why we need to abolish the Electoral College:

    1. Candidates can lose the popular vote and still become president. In fact, there have been 5 presidents who have won the Electoral College votes without winning the popular vote and have become president. A candidate could actually become president by winning only 21.8% of the popular vote in a specific scenario, according to a study done by Jesse Ruderman.
    2. The value of a vote depends on what state a person lives in. “For instance, each individual vote in Wyoming counts nearly four times as much in the Electoral College as each individual vote in Texas. This is because Wyoming has 3 electoral votes for a population of 532,668 citizens and Texas has 32 electoral votes for a population of almost 25 million. By dividing the population by electoral votes, we can see that Wyoming has one ‘elector’ for every 177,556 people and Texas has one ‘elector’ for about every 715,499,” according to the Huffington Post. Because of this disparity in accordance to the significance of every citizen’s vote, it is true that the value of a vote really does depend on geographic location.
    3. An individual vote is only as valuable as its ability to influence the majority vote of a state. A Republican’s vote in a safe state – a state that is usually won by a large margin by one of the parties – for Democrats, such as California, really doesn’t matter. Similarly, a Democrat’s vote in a safe state for Republicans, such as Texas, is essentially worthless. In a swing state – a state whose support could go to either party – such as Florida, however, residents of both parties have more significant votes. The Huffington Post asserts, “under an Electoral College voting process, an individual vote is only as valuable as its ability to influence the majority vote of a state. Why? Because you are not casting a direct vote for President; the electors are.”
    4. Electors are not required to vote the way their state voted. While it is uncommon for this to happen, it is perfectly legal for the electors to vote in opposition of their state’s majority. This has happened a total of 157 times since the founding of the Electoral College.
    5. All of the electoral votes go to the candidate with the majority from that state, no matter how much the minority was. For example, in Colorado, even if the Democratic candidate won by 47% to 46%, then all of Colorado’s 9 electoral votes would be cast Democratic, even though it would seem more fair to cast 5 Democratic votes and 4 Republican votes. This is true in every state, except two.


On the other hand, there are many advocates of the Electoral College who claim that it assures that support is not just from one region of the country and that it protects minority interests. In response to these claims, it can be argued that it should not matter where people live in the country and elections should not take this into account. If more people vote for one candidate, no matter where they reside in the country, then whichever candidate has the most votes should win. People that live in rural areas and people that live in large cities should have votes with the same importance and impact; no one person or group should get preferential treatment just to “protect their rights” just because of their geographic location. In addition, no one person or group should be awarded preferential treatment because of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or because of their belonging to a minority group. It cannot be ruled as unfair for every person to get an equal vote. In fact, in the 2016 election, minority interests were not protected when you examine the results broken down into sectors based on race, education, income, and religion. In particular, when you look at which candidate people of minority races voted for, Clinton won every minority group by a landslide of 20% or more (black, latino, asian, and other races), while Trump only had the majority of white voters (by 20%). Trump won the overall election, however, with the help of the Electoral College which, in this case, did the opposite of protecting the minorities it is argued to be a voice for. When every person’s individual vote counts equally, then we can consider our elections fair and representative of the people.


Some think that abolishing the Electoral College entirely is an overcorrection; simply revising the Electoral College is a much better solution: it can avoid the conflict of eliminating a centuries old system while still altering a few aspects of it. The idea that simply revising the Electoral College will solve the problem, however, is merely an illusion of a solution. It makes the correction to the problems riddled throughout the Electoral College system seem simple and easy to fix. This is an incorrect assumption. To really make the Electoral College fair and more representative of the people of the United States, so much of it must be altered (for example: making it impossible to win the presidential election without winning the popular vote and not allowing electors to change their votes) that is would hardly resemble the original concept. By abandoning this complicated and unfair system altogether, we can start fresh as a country and adopt the much simpler, truly representative, and easier system of simply counting the popular vote.