Joshua Hurtado graduated from the National Paralegal College with an Associates degree in paralegal studies.
It is no secret that elections tend to be a bit on the contentious side. While a good amount of the tension is due to people literally voicing different opinions and supporting different political candidates that they believe will best govern the country, state, or community some of the tension is due to confusion or a sense that the system itself is unfair. There are several criticisms of the Electoral College in the United States and today we will talk about a couple of those as well as couple of proposed alternatives.
In the United States the president is elected through the Electoral College, a process which many Americans feel is either unfair or do not understand. I have already written an article on how the Electoral College works so if you are unfamiliar with it you can click here. Now, lets take a look at why a lot of people see this system as unfair.
Is It Fair?
Well, this will really depend on who you ask. There are many people who would say that the Electoral College is the best to ensure that a simple majority can't just run over the rights of the minority. To get to the bottom of whether or not this system is unfair we need to define terms, what does "fair" actually mean? Well, for many skeptics fair would mean that each persons vote would count just as much as any other persons vote and they would argue that the Electoral College as currently implemented does not allow this. Lets take a look at this argument.
To address this we will take a look at the most populous state and the least populous state. Lets start with California. According to nationsonline.org as of 2020 California had a population of 39,572,000 people. As the state with the most people it also has the most Electoral votes of any state at 54. That means that means that each vote relative to the population is worth right around 0.00000137 Electoral votes. Now lets take a look at Wyoming.
Wyoming is the least populous state in the union. According to nationsonline.org as of 2020 it had a population of 579,000 people. Wyoming also has the lowest possible number of Electoral votes which is three, one for each Representative and one for each Senator. Running the numbers we can see that each vote case in Wyoming relative to the population of the state is worth 0.00000518 Electoral votes. Comparing these two numbers we can see that if you live in Wyoming your vote is approx. 3.78 times more influential than the vote of someone who lives in California on a proportional level. The reason the difference is so big is because each state gets two Senators regardless of its size. So if you are from California with over 39 million people you get two Senators and if you are from Wyoming with only 579,000 people you also get two Senators.
You may have noticed every presidential election cycle that an outsized amount of attention is given to only a handful of states. These states are referred to as the battleground states. Most states in the country are already pretty safe states for either the Democratic or Republican party. The reason these battleground states exist is because the number of states that vote either reliably Republican or Democratic states are not enough to get either party a majority of electoral votes.
The winners of most elections in the United States are decided by popular vote. To win the popular vote one candidate must convince a simple majority in order to win the election. This is what both Representatives and Senators do in their elections. The people go out to vote and whoever wins a majority of the vote wins the election. There are a lot of people who would like to see the Electoral College replaced and the president determined by popular vote. While this may seem like a fairly straight forward system to implement, there is one really big hurdle. Article two section one of the constitution specifically states that each state shall select electors and that those electors shall cast their votes for president. Because the electors are established in the constitution getting rid of them would require a constitutional amendment which is a massive undertaking. There is a slightly different way of reflecting the popular vote which has been proposed which would get around this hurdle. Each state dan determine how they will award their electors. This means that each state can simply decide to award their electors to the winner of the national popular vote. Since the states would still be using electors it would not require a constitutional amendment and would still have the same end effect without the hurdle.
Another proposed alternative would not function based on a popular vote but would still give the individual voters more influence in the election. Under the current system the winner of the popular vote in each state (with the exception of Maine and Nebraska which already award their electoral votes based on their congressional districts) is awarded all of that states electoral votes. If each electoral vote is tied to a congressional district we would see the Republican candidate pick up electoral votes from California and Democratic candidates pick up electoral votes from Texas. This is because the winner of the popular vote in each congressional district would win that electoral vote which would more accurately reflect the communities within that district. What about the remaining two electoral votes from the states senators? Those would be awarded to the overall popular vote winner of the state as a whole. While this system may be more difficult to implement it still would not require a constitutional amendment because it keeps the electors in place.
So what do you guys think? Do you like the current system? Let me know in this poll.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 Joshua Hurtado