Undemocratic, Outdated, Useless: The Electoral College must go


Graphic by Emily McNally

The Electoral College, give the vote back to the people.

If you are old enough to vote in the presidential election, you probably think that you’re voting for the president directly. Heads up: the people don’t elect the president: it’s the Electoral College that makes that decision.  The next step of certifying the presidential election is December 14, when the Electoral College will meet and vote. I hope four years from now, that step is gone.

When you cast your vote for president, you’re actually voting for who your state will vote for. You’d think that the popular vote would decide who runs our country. So why aren’t we doing that? The electoral college is completely outdated and it needs to be abolished. 

The Electoral College was designed in the 1800’s when the Founding Fathers didn’t trust the “common man” to make such an important decision. But in 2020, over two hundred years later, a lot has changed.

With the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016, he thumbs his nose at norms and standard practices in government. I’ve learned that the Electoral College has exposed us to someone getting elected who is not chosen by the will of the people.

Many eligible voters are obsessed with politics and keep up with the latest news. Voting is easier, too. If the Founding Fathers were here today, would they still think that the ‘common man’ isn’t dependable to elect the president? 

If the United States is populated with around 330 million people, why do only 536 people decide who the president, the person who runs our country, will be?

The Electoral College is undemocratic

The Electoral College is fundamentally undemocratic. Democracy is supposed to be a system of government that represents all people equally. 

The ‘common man’ back then was considered a white male. Today, the United States is not only made up of white men. That is NOT America, It is so much more than that. There are so many people of different races, religions, and, gender identification. Where is that diversity reflected? 

The Constitution states “We the People” are the driving force of our government. We the people? In 1787 the Constitution defined “people” as free, white men. So no women or people of color were given a voice in forming the new government. The ‘common man’ has changed so much up to today. 

Candidates running for president can win the popular vote and still lose the election. It doesn’t matter how many more popular votes they received. In the end, the electoral college has all the power. 

“The problem is plain and simple. It is not democratic. Why should the amount of land people are spread out on decide the outcome of an election? Why should small states that are a fraction of the country be deciding an election? It should be the people alone who make the decision. The electoral college does exactly what it was supposed to fix. It gives disproportionate power to small populated states. The idea was to encourage presidential candidates to visit the whole country and not just the highly populated areas. But all this does is completely flip the problem,” said Patrick McNally, a local voter. “It comes down to if you want the power divided by states or if you want the people to decide elections.”

What would have happened if. . .

As a young voter, new to the process, I want the people to decide.

In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush was elected with an electoral win of 271 votes, but he still lost the popular vote to his Democrat opponent, Al Gore by around 500,000 votes. If it was up to the popular vote Bush would have lost this election. Therefore, he would’ve never been re-elected 4 years later in the 2004 election against John Kerry. 

How would this have changed the U.S. as a whole? If the electoral college didn’t determine the election, Democrats would have been in presidency for the last 20 years. 

In February 2002, Bush did address global warming by introducing an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol by reducing greenhouse gasses by 18% over 10 years. This drew attention to the cause, but if Gore was president, many believe much greater strides would have been made.

If Gore had been elected instead of Bush, we would have invested in clean energy with a goal of eliminating fossil fuels. Maybe today we wouldn’t be struggling so much with climate change. In 2006 Gore created a documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”  in hopes of educating people about the dangers of global warming. Gore is also the founder of The Climate Change Reality Project. Even though he lost the election, his passion continued to protect the public against global warming. And he would’ve been able to take bigger steps in his presidency to help with this problem.

In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than a million votes, yet she still lost the electoral vote by 74. President Trump had fewer people in the country vote for him, yet he was still elected president. It doesn’t make sense to elect the person with fewer votes from the PEOPLE! 

President Trump has done nothing good for this country. He is a selfish, racist, sexist, pathological liar. And the list could go on and on, but to save some time let’s discuss what this country would look like without him as president. 

Do you believe the Electoral College should stay or be abolished?


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If we did decide to elect by popular vote, Hillary Clinton would have been nominated president instead of Trump, saving the country from the last four years of absolute chaos. It would have been historical to see the first female president take office: Madam President. Maybe Clinton wasn’t the perfect candidate, but she had promising qualifications. She was the First Lady for eight years when her husband, Bill Clinton was in office. She was also the 67th U.S. Secretary of State and served during Barack Obama’s first term. Clinton was previously a U.S. Senator from New York from 2001 to 2009. All of her experience in politics would have made her a better fit for the highest office than Trump. 

While Clinton would have most likely been stymied by the Republican Senate, she would not have made the numerous negative steps that our man-made climate change denier, Trump has taken. 

Here’s why I am frustrated.

Just to name a few: Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accord, allowed development in drilling on national park lands, relaxed many restrictions for industries regarding pollution, and planned to build a border wall with total disregard to our environment. 

He also invested in fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, particular through fracking which is terrible for the environment. Without the electoral college, Trump would have less opportunity to game the system. His voter suppression has been focused on the electoral votes and his supporters, not the entire population.

With the Coronavirus exploding in March, affecting over 12 million people in the U.S. and killing around 240 thousand, this could have all been avoided with a more mature, idealistic president to handle the situation. Countries all around the world are doing better now. That’s because they followed the rules and handled the outbreak correctly. 

Meanwhile Americans thought they’d only be quarantined for a couple of weeks. How did it turn into nine months? This is because our ‘leader’ was unable to protect his people. Telling everyone that masks are a jab at our freedom of expression is just idiotic. We aren’t told to wear masks to strip us of our First Amendment rights. It’s to protect everyone from the spread of COVID-19. Acting childish and throwing tantrums when you’re told to put on a mask is not only selfish, but inconsiderate of the people in this country who actually care about others’ safety. 

As a woman and a feminist, I have no respect for our president. What he has said and done to women, completely dehumanizing them, treating them like objects, is absolutely foul and my stomach aches at the thought of it. 

Do we really want a president who sexualizes women and ignores when he has done something wrong? Thankfully, I am happy to say that I believe in our generation. We voted him out of office. Together we can construct a better government, without the electoral college. Gen-Z has the power to make change and we’ve just gotten started. 

The electoral college’s origins disenfranchised most people. When the electoral college was ratified, It was a difficult time living in America for black people. White supremacists tried everything they could to strip people of color of their rights. 

Even though the 15th Amendment gave everyone the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” in 1870, newly elected conservative Democrats (also known as Dixiecrats) created a variety of laws made to suppress black voters. Jim Crow voter laws included requirements to pass a literacy test which made it nearly impossible for uneducated former slaves to succeed. 

Yet centuries later, even in today’s society the black community is still fighting for their rights. The original Electoral College disenfranchised women and people of color and this issue still hasn’t been resolved.

Keeping the Electoral College has a strong argument, too.

Some may argue that the antiquated system is still beneficial.  These voices have a strong argument.

Government teacher, Jamie Hendi believes that it is needed to keep the system balanced. 

“The areas with a large population would dominate. The Electoral College gives the smaller states and rural populations more of a voice. If we didn’t have the Electoral College presidential candidates would only visit the large cities and ignore the rest of the country,” said Hendi.

Hendi’s colleague, Samira Diggs, could be convinced either way.

“I fear that if we got rid of the Electoral College, the candidates seeking that office would keep trying to sway voters in largely populated areas without also setting an agenda for and speaking to most of the American public that are not concentrated in those regions,” said Diggs.

“That said, I have a very hard time saying that an individual’s vote in South Dakota (my home state!) should be worth more than my vote here in Maryland.”

Hendi had a different idea, if not to get rid of the Electoral College, then get rid of the winner-take-all rule that 48 states use. 

“The winner-take-all was NOT the intent of the Founding Fathers. Alexander Hamilton hated it! Currently, if a candidate wins the popular vote in a state he/she gets ALL the Electoral votes for that state. I like the Maine and Nebraska model of proportional voting by Congressional district.  Each congressional district gets one electoral vote,” Hendi said, “So whichever candidate wins that district wins that electoral vote. Then there are two overall state electoral votes. Whoever wins the most votes in the states gets those two votes. It gets closer to the will of the people.” 

As a new voter, I want more from the candidates.

This may be true, but candidates already campaign only in the swing states. They often ignore other states–when did we see Donald Trump or Joe Biden campaign in Maryland? It’s the same problem, just flipped. Currently, swing states mainly determine the election. This gives the other states less voice. 

The Electoral College was made in the first place because the ‘common man’ was not trusted to vote for their leader. There is no excuse in today’s society that people cannot vote. New technology has made voting more advanced. Including mail in ballots, new computer systems, and new ways to communicate. Back then, many people wouldn’t vote because they lived in smaller rural areas. These new technologies brought up in the 2020 election debunk this. So many people voted this year because of the new technologies they were given. This election was so important and people realized that Trump’s actions do actually affect them.

The outdated system of the Electoral College has demonstrated a trend of administrations that are not representative of the majority of the people.  This is particularly true with President Trump, exacerbated by his antics, and in a time where access to voting is vastly improved through technology, the concept of an Electoral College has been proven to be problematic.