Why the electoral college sucks

Democracy: America’s pride. Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the US House, once affirmed that America is the world’s oldest democracy. He is right; America is the world’s oldest continuous Democracy. This country first gained its independence in the now-idolized year of 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was drafted, ratified and sent off to the British. Even so, America had many problems then: the only people allowed to vote were white male landowners above the age of 21, treatment of Native Americans and of course, slavery. This last issue of slavery led to one of the most fundamental and unexplainable quirks in our Democracy: the Electoral College, and it should be abolished.

The electoral college was first suggested in 1787 by the state of Virginia, a slave state.  At a constitutional convention, it was eventually added to the constitution. Basically, every state (plus DC, which gets three electors) gets two electors for representation in the Senate and an additional amount of electors equal to their population proportion relative to the rest of the United States, at least one is guaranteed. The candidate that wins the majority in that state then gets all of their electors, regardless of the margin that they won by. Whether they won by one vote or won with an 80% landslide, that candidate gets every elector. This, along with the fact that states get at least three electors and aways get two Senators, are the main problems with our political system right now.

Let’s do some math: Wyoming has, according to the 2020 census, has a population of ~579,000 people. This means, divided by three, that they have one elector per ~193,000 people. California, which has 39.51 million people, has 55 electors. While this is substantially more than Wyoming, CA also has substantially more people. 39.51 million divided by 55 equals one elector per ~718,000 people, almost four times more than Wyoming. This means that a Wyoming resident has four times the voting power of a California resident, which is inherently unequal. The main argument used to defend this inequality is that it prevents large states from dominating smaller states, usually perpetuated by people from these smaller states. Very simply, the states are not voting. No state votes on anything; the people vote. The fact of the matter is that Wyoming has 68 times fewer people than California and should therefore get 68 times fewer electors. This would, yes, let CA dominate Wyoming, but it should; it has more people. California and other large states like Texas simply are not making a decision as one body when people vote; there are many more people whose opinions should be respected. And the easiest way, instead of shuffling around electors to make the electoral college equitable, is to have the president elected by popular vote. And if that causes the presidency to tip to one party, then that means that more people want that president and that they should hold office.

One fact that is conveniently omitted when defending the electoral college is that it was established to protect slavery. Southerners did not want slaves to vote, so while the south had more people, it had fewer voters. This led them to argue for the electoral college, a system that they knew was unequal because it would favor them.The electoral college defies the will of the country as a whole and gives the political minority wiggle room that they do not deserve, just like the Senate. States do not have an identity. They do not “deserve” two senators or three electoral college votes because they are states. States are but the people that live in the state, and nothing more.

Where do we go from here? How do we fix this problem? Well, the first thing we need to do is change our education system to portray an accurate picture of history: that the south was wrong, America is deeply flawed and that the electoral college is equal. If we do not pass a constitutional amendment to fix this, states have already begun pledging to give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote as soon as the states that have signed on have the power to control the election. Let’s hope that works out, and for now, elect politicians that support abolition of the electoral college. Other than that, America will simply have to wait.