What impact can the electoral college system have on presidential elections
The Electoral College (EC) system of voting is widely used in the United States. It is based on the concept of the winner-take-all policy. However, EC has attracted a lot of attention in the political niche. In light of this, critics have raised concerns that the system needs to be abolished due to its negative impacts to both the states and the citizens. Although these arguments are yet to receive any significant response from the U.S government, it is apparent that policymakers are pushing for further reforms to the system. The disadvantages associated with the Electoral College surpass its benefits and it should therefore be abolished in the United States.
To begin with, Whitaker and Neale (2004) documents that the system has attracted substantially small numbers of voters in some states such as California and Minnesota throughout history. In this line of thought, it is imperative to note that the U.S citizens are advocates of unity and good leadership, albeit the system deprives them of the freedom to showcase their democratic rights. For instance, the reduced number of voter turnout is influenced by the idea that the system nominates the aspirants rather than giving the public the chance to make such decisions. This strategy makes the people lose their trust to the electoral system attracting less voters than expected in the general elections.
Further, the Electoral College seems to favor the political interests of the rich in the American community at the expense of the poor. The wealthy are given priorities regarding nominating their preferred nominees because they have the financial influence to support the politicians throughout the campaigns. In this context, Hacker and Pierson (2011) suggests that the system has shown a great deal of incompetency because it does promote democratic equality between the rich and the poor. In essence, despite the fact that majority of voters represent the less fortunate from the society, the system does not give them the privilege to make their political decisions.
The system is equally unfair to the states as it is to the people. Some of the states with little political influence are shunted because their votes are not weighed in a similar way to that of other counterparts. At this juncture, the disadvantages states either have less significant impact in selecting representatives or no influence at all. This notion allows the politicians to focus their campaigns on states that have profound support from the system. Therefore, the government and the people of the disadvantaged states are left outside the radar.
The Electoral System has for many years proven that it is not capable of giving the United States citizens the right to practice their democratic rights in a free, fair, and just manner. The system is associated with various complications and irregularities that account for the increased pressure from the public to make amendments regarding the voting system. As discussed earlier in this paper, EC does not give the citizens the chance to nominate their preferred candidates or give both the rich and the poor and opportunity to exercise their democracy by making equal contributions to the political spectrum. Therefore, the Electoral system should be abolished for a better system that enhances equality and fairness to all the citizens irrespective of their social status.
Whitaker, L. P., & Neale, T. H. (2004). The Electoral College: An Overview and Analysis of Reform Proposals. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.
Hacker, J. S., & Pierson, P. (2011). Winner-take-all politics. Tantor Media, Incorporated.
How does the electoral college work
In several past presidential elections, the president has lost the popular vote. A candidate that garners the majority of votes not becoming president raises questions of legitimacy. The electoral college problem is therefore only getting worse. Electoral college rules make some states more powerful than others. The results of elections in just five states outweigh results in all the other five states leading to a vast area of people that feels ignored. In a fair democracy, everyone's vote should count equally. The electoral college violates this principle by making sure that some people's votes are more equal than others.
The vote distribution in the electoral college pretends that fewer people live where they do, and more people live where they do not. However, this distribution of votes per state is not equally dispersed. The value of each citizen's vote changes from one state to another. While this was initiated to give the small states more power in against the larger states, presidential candidates are majorly paying attention to the larger states during campaign periods.
The electoral college has also created the phenomenon of swing states and safe states. In each state, a presidential candidate can win only slightly over fifty percent of the votes in that state yet receive all the electoral votes from that state. Safe states are states that historically tend to vote for candidates from a particular party. Swing states have traditionally maintained equal support for candidates of both parties; they are therefore crucial in deciding the outcome of an election. A republican's vote in Democrat-heavy Maryland thus matters little in a presidential election. A democrat's vote in Republican Texas is also worthless. The electoral college voting process ensures that an individual's vote is only as valuable as its ability to influence the majority vote in that specific state. The electors are the only ones who will be casting a direct vote for president.
Another significant failure of the electoral college is that a person can win the presidency by garnering only about a fifth of the popular vote. This winner takes all system is undoubtedly unfair. A candidate can win the votes of the fewest amount of people, yet they receive more electoral votes than that which should be given to the people in that state. The shared demand of the American public is, therefore contradicted.
It is not compulsory for the electors in the electoral college to vote the way the people of their state have instructed them to. Electors who do not align with the will of the people are known as faithless electors. Electors can also choose to abstain from voting for any particular candidate. It is important to note that while some states have enacted laws that punish faithless electors, no such elector has ever been successfully prosecuted. The opinion of one or a few people is, therefore, able to overwrite the will of millions. This makes the whole process of voting in the first place insignificant and a waste of time.
It is, therefore, time that we rescind the electoral college and rely exclusively on a national popular vote in determining the president.
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