Political Focus: Defending the electoral college

Timothy Kandow, Contributor

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After a candidate won the popular vote and yet lost the general election, the 2016 election has resurfaced the presidential voting process here in the United States. Several Democratic candidates have emerged to challenge incumbent President Donald Trump and propose removing the electoral college. This long-standing and unique voting process in the United States has been a topic of debate throughout U.S. history.

The electoral college originated as an agreement between representatives of the colonies while founding this nation. Some wanted the president to be elected through the popular vote, while others wanted the position to be appointed. The electoral college became the compromise between the two groups. Each state has one electoral vote per representative and senator delegated to, in theory, cast a vote for the presidential candidate who gained the most votes within that state.

When discussing the electoral college, it’s important to note the United States is not a democracy; the populus does not run the country. The United States is a constitutional republic composed of a federation of states.

Fears when founding this nation came in twofold: one, that the majority would rule over the minority, and two, powerful states choke the smaller states.

The purpose of the electoral college is to minimize the power of the bigger and more populated states. It was never designed to grant one voter, one vote. In fact, the American electorate in its entirety is intended to equal the playing field amongst states and people, not solely people.

Though this may appear unfair — evidenced in the 2016 general election — the electoral college works to the standard of excellence and fulfills its intention.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote by two percentage points. Trump, however, won the electoral college by 14 percentage points electing him president. Trump won using electoral votes.

The electoral college prevented Hillary Clinton from using her 6 million vote victory in New York and California while ignoring her 3 million vote loss in the other 48 states. When combined, Clinton only won the popular vote using only two states. Ignore these two and Trump won the popular vote by over 3 million votes.

If the U.S. had a popular vote system, two states would have decided the result of the 2016 election for the other 48. If we did away with the electoral college, candidates would only focus on the most populated states, completely ignoring the smaller.

Currently, the electoral college pressures candidates to campaign in a variety of states with diversity in economies, ideals and people. Because of the need to appeal to a variety of people, candidates and political parties provide a large platform covering assorted policies and solutions. 

The United States has found a system where the state population is accounted for and at the same time gives a voice to the minority states. The United States is not a democracy, we are a constitutional republic made up of a federation of states each diverse.

The electoral college has become the best compromise between the states rights and the people’s voice. Abolishing the electoral college would be a mistake for this country with grave consequences.