A Sample Essay On The Pitfalls of the Electoral College
The Pitfalls of the Electoral College
In the District of Columbia, many license plates display the phrase "Taxation without Representation;” this is a reminder that citizens of the capital of the United States of America are not represented in Congress. Americans are proud people who stand up for their beliefs and values. Why is it that "one of the principal causes of the American Revolution” is not held to the same standard in the same district where the White House sits (Bolinger)? There is a glaringly obvious problem with the voting system currently in place, and the American people have become complacent despite its effect on everyone who lives in, works in, or visits the United States of America. The Electoral College is a hindrance to the very definition of what it means to be American. The American people should not rest until the unbalanced value of votes and the tendency to completely disregard what the people want is corrected. As it no longer serves its intended purpose, the Electoral College should be abolished.
The Electoral College limits voters by only allowing them to vote indirectly for the president instead of using a more direct and straightforward method. As it stands today, "the people do not vote to choose a president but rather to choose electors who will choose one” (Jefferson-Jenkins). The candidate who secures at least 270 Electoral College votes will become the President of the United States. If neither candidate reaches 270 votes, the House of Representatives chooses, which has the potential to be a big problem if the House leans more Republican or Democrat instead of being evenly balanced (Jefferson-Jenkins). In that case, the people would not be choosing the president at all with the choice resting solely on the House. Presidents have taken office who have won with electoral votes but lost the popular vote. This does not follow the will of the people.
America prides itself on democracy, but the Electoral College is a blemish to that image. Bolinger suggests that the current system "creates a great deal of inequity that betrays American values of majority rule, equality before the law, and representative government” (Bolinger). The Electoral College was created to ease the worry of the small and slave-holding states; America no longer has slave states, so these safeguards are no longer helpful to anyone (Madonna; Rubin). If an American citizen does not like something, he or she is supposed to take that opinion to the voting booth. Unfortunately, not all votes are equal because "a citizen's individual vote has more weight if he or she lives in a state with a small population than if the citizen lives in a state with a large population” (Jefferson-Jenkins). For example, one Wyoming vote is worth four times more than that of one California vote (Bolinger). It goes against the idea of democracy, the United States’ foundation, that Wyoming citizens have more of a say in who becomes president than citizens of California.
Some votes do not count as much as other votes, but some votes do not count at all. For states that heavily lean toward one political party, Jefferson-Jenkins criticizes the current system by drawing attention to the fact that it "disenfranchises those who voted for other candidates in that state. Their votes simply don't count.” If citizens believe that their votes are not going to count, they will be less likely to spend their time going to the polls (Cebula). The Electoral College’s mere existence can harm voter turnout, further disrupting the idea of democracy that the nation is built on.
The Electoral College can skew votes, but at its worst, it can and has defied the will of the people. "Faithless electors” can go against the grain and decide to not vote for the most popular candidate, and they cause such a threat that "in a close race could cause a crisis of confidence in our electoral system” (Jefferson-Jenkins). When a president wins by electoral votes but loses the popular vote, the country is stunned. People are dumbfounded how the person who received the most votes overall does not become the winner of the election; it feels like an exploited loophole and citizens feel unsure if the right decision was made. In theory, this occurrence should be rare, but it had just happened with Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, and not long before that in the 2000 election. There have also been many close calls regarding the elections of 1916, 1948, 1960, 1968, and 1976 (Jefferson-Jenkins). This is not a rare occurrence, but an unfair system that has threatened democracy multiple times throughout the years.
The Electoral College is only used for deciding who wins the presidency, but the effect ripples out to other aspects of voting and democracy. Those who do not vote in the presidential election because of weighted votes due to the Electoral College are also unlikely to vote in other areas that the Electoral College is not used for, further decreasing voter turnout in smaller elections (Cebula). Followers of smaller pollical parties are buried and feel helpless when voting should make them feel empowered (Jefferson-Jenkins).
Changes have to take place to make voting as fair as some Americans claim it to be, because "when the votes of some citizens count more than those of others, America has failed to honor its commitment to equal representation” (Bolinger). Flaws such as skewing the value of some votes over others and blatantly defying the will of the voters cannot be overlooked any longer. Voters should be trusted enough to directly elect a president, so citizens of the District of Columbia and other territories, such as Puerto Rico, will have an impact on who is elected to lead them, and everyone has an equal stake in the proceedings (Bolinger). America has to stop living in the past and give the power to directly choose the president to the people, where it belongs.
Bolinger, Benjamin. "Point: Abolishing the Electoral College." , vol. 82, no. 3-4, 2007. .
Cebula, Richard J. "The Electoral College and Voter Participation: Evidence on Two Hypotheses." , vol. 29, no. 3, Sept. 2001.
Jefferson-Jenkins, Carolyn. "Who Should Elect the President? The Case Against the Electoral College." , vol. 90, no. 2, 2001.
Madonna, G. Terry. "Why the Electoral College is Bad for America." , vol. 35, no. 2, 2005.
Rubin, Edward L. "Putting the Constitution in its Place: Shlomo Slonim, Forging the American Nation, 1787-1793; James Madison and the Federalist Revolution." Case Western Reserve Law Review, vol. 71, no. 1, 2020. Gale Academic OneFile.