The Electoral College: the college that is not for Americans

Ritika Jain, Reporter

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard of the electoral college. The electoral college comes into play once every four years to elect the new president. This has spurred controversy surrounding the recent election. Although this term is thrown around around the time of the elections, many do not understand what it entails.

 The electoral college was established by the founding fathers to compromise the vote in Congress and the popular vote of citizens. There are 538 electors in the electoral college and a candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win presidency. Each state is allotted an elector for each member in its Congressional delegation. Therefore, densely populated states like Florida and California are granted more electoral votes.

 In each state, both political party’s vote to select a group of state officials and/or politicians to serve as their state’s electors. However, electors in each state are not obligated to vote for the winner of their state’s popular vote. The flaw in this is that voters are not guaranteed that their votes will be counted, which infringes on their rights. On election day, people vote for the candidate of their choice by voting for their state’s electors, who will be representing their state. The candidate that wins the most votes (popular vote) in a state wins all of that state’s electoral votes. In this past election, this winner-take-all system cost Clinton the electoral vote in key battleground states like Michigan and Florida, handing all the electoral votes to Trump.

 If neither candidate manages to win 270 electoral votes, a vote will be conducted in the House of Representatives. Each state is given one vote regardless of population size. Therefore a vote in a populated state like California is worth the same as a vote in a less populated like Montana.

  This is a rare occurrence, but the basis of the electoral college belittles the vote of the people and prioritizes the vote in Congress. It relies more on the state officials and representatives who make up the electoral college to reflect the view of citizens in their vote, which they do not.

 Several reforms have been proposed to amend the electoral college. The proportion plan is a plan in which each candidate receives the proportion of electoral votes that they received in the popular vote. The district plan allocates two electors for each state chosen by a popular vote, while the remainder would be elected separately in each Congressional district. The direct popular vote completely disregards the electoral college where each vote is counted equally and the majority vote projects the winner. Lastly, the national popular vote, which is the most widespread, does not require a Constitutional amendment but rather an amendment to the election laws in each state. Under this plan, all of the state’s electoral votes are given to the winner of the national popular vote. This plan is the most reasonable among the four because it does not eradicate the electoral college, but works around it to ensure a fair system to elect future presidents.

 A common argument for the retention of the electoral college is that it is a stable and decisive process. The distribution of electoral votes for each state make sense, but the proportion of votes casted for each candidate can get lost depending on who wins the electoral vote. Hillary Clinton has received more votes ever than any other presidential candidate in American history and lead by 2.5 million votes, but lost the electoral vote in a landslide. I don’t dislike the electoral college simply because it elected Trump into office, but because it requires each state to declare one party over the other, which simplifies the process, but dismisses a large population of voters collectively that are not represented by their state. This suggests that the vote in Congress is more influential than the vote of the people, which ironically American ideals work to protect.