What will be your feeling if your vote is not used to determine the outcomes of a general election, particularly if that election is for the American President? Despite voters being the most essential group in a general election, the Electoral College determines who assumes the office of the presidency in the United States. The Electoral College can be described as the primary system the U.S. relies on during Presidential elections. In the country, the national popular or majority vote does not determine the outcomes of the general elections. In the 2016 general election, Trump became the U.S. President since he won the Electoral College despite Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote. It is for this reason that the Electoral College has faced criticism since its formation. The Electoral College is not the only appropriate and sensible way of choosing the U.S. President since it is not democratic, may result in bias, and discourage voter turnout.
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Conversely, certain individuals have asserted that the Electoral College tends to be sensible since it protects the minority’s interests. The Electoral College provides racial minorities with the opportunity to air their concerns and interests at the national level (Ayres). Moreover, the U.S. has experienced peace, prosperity, and stability during elections due to the system. The system’s main feature is that states have the right to design their election laws. Electing the President based upon a direct national vote would undermine the small States. These people in support of the Electoral College feel that a national popular vote would undermine stability in presidential elections, resulting in drawn-out ballot recounts, and higher chances of voter fraud (Ayers).
The first reason why the system is not the only appropriate and sensible way of conducting the Presidential elections is that it is undemocratic. Richard Lempert, the Eric Stein Distinguished University Professor of Law and Sociology Emeritus at the University of Michigan stated, “If democracy means the majority rules, the Electoral College is an undemocratic institution” (Lempert). It fails to reflect the will of the citizens. In a democratic state, the votes of all citizens are used to determine the outcomes of a general election. However, in the United States, the majority vote does not have significant impacts on an election’s outcomes. In 2000 and 2016 general elections, the politician who garnered most of the popular votes did not win the presidency (Neale 7). Primarily, the Electoral College system has been criticized since it undermines the basic principles of democracy. The Electoral College further undermines democracy since it reinforces the two-party system. It does not support the emergence of independent and third-party candidates. According to democratic principles, a person who wins an election should garner the majority of the cast votes. The presidency is the only office in America where the candidate who wins the most votes can still lose the election (Lempert).
The other primary reason why the system is not the sensible and appropriate way of electing the American President is that it may result in bias. The Electoral College system tends to favor most populous states at the expense of least populated states. In 2015 Governor Scott Walker [R] of Wisconsin said: “The Nation as a whole is not going to elect the next President. Twelve States are” (Lempert). The ethnic minority voters have an unfair advantage over other racial groups in the United States. They are concentrated in populous states that have the majority of Electoral College delegations (Neale 11). Consequently, certain states can control the outcome of a general election. Therefore, there is a need to accord all American citizens equal opportunities during a general election.
The third reason why the system is not a sensible and appropriate way of choosing the U.S. President is that it may discourage voter turnout. Some voters may not participate in a general election since their votes would not have any effect on the final results. Significantly, the Electoral College discourages candidates from campaigning in states with few votes. In 2016, 94 percent of campaigning by the presidential candidates took place in 12 States (Lempert). Many people in the other states feel their vote doesn’t matter and that since they don’t live in the 12 states the Presidential candidates focus on that their vote does not matter. People would be more likely to participate in a general election if their votes are used to determine who assumes the office of the presidency.
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In conclusion, the current system of determining the U.S. President needs to be changed. The Electoral college is an archaic system that does not conform to the democratic value that has existed in American politics for centuries. In a truly democratic national election, parties and candidates would have the motivation to turn out their votes wherever they were, promoting a deeper sense of engagement across the whole population.
- Ayres, Crystal. 5 Advantages and Disadvantages of Electoral College. Vittana.org, 2019, https://vittana.org/5-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-electoral-college. Accessed on 1 July 2019
- Lempert, Richard, et al. “Pros and Cons of The Electoral College.” Bunker Hill Community College. MasterFILEPremier, EBSCOhost, 1 Jan. 2017, web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy16.noblenet.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=059caf04-e786-4526-ab88-4ab473a30f3b@sessionmgr101. Accessed on 10 July 2019.
- Neale, Thomas. Electoral College Reform: Contemporary Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, 2017
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