In the United States, the Presidential election is an indirect electoral system in which citizens, who are qualified to vote, elect members of the Electoral College. This idea was adopted during the constitutional convention in Philadelphia to provide a balance between an unelected king and complete democracy. Electoral College, established in Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, is a body of legislative officials called the electors who then directly elect the President of America. The number of electors is determined after the number of total voting members of the United States Congress. Since 1964, the number of 538 electors in each presidential election has stayed the same, which corresponds to the 435 Congressmen, 100 Senators, and three electors from the District of Columbia, also known as Washington D.C. Electoral College, assigns a certain number of electoral votes to each state. The number of electors in each state depends on the respective population, which is determined after every ten years through the United States Census. Although the method of calculation has stayed the same, the number of electors for each state can still change due to the change in population. As a result, states might lose or even gain electors during presidential elections.
In contrast, there is a direct election in the Popular Vote system as demanded by the National Popular Vote Movement. All citizens who are qualified to vote elect the President by the majority of votes instead of electing members of the Electoral College. Popular vote asks states to sign a contract, and according to that agreement, the presidential elector has to elect President with more popular vote nationwide. Their motto ‘Every voter in every state should matter in every election’ is the reason why some critics of Electoral College debate on the fairness of their system.
How is The President Elected Currently?
Republican Donald Trump is the 45th President of America who was elected in the 2016 elections. According to the overall presidential results, Donald Trump won 306 out of 538 electoral votes that marked his victory over the Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton. However, Hilary Clinton won 2.6 million more popular votes nationwide than Donald Trump. As a result, the percentage of popular votes secured by Donald Trump was just 46.4% in comparison with Hilary Clinton, who secured 48.5% of the votes.
Even though pre-election polls made conspicuous predictions of Hilary Clinton winning the presidency and had a three percent lead in the popular votes, she still was not elected the President of the United States by the Electoral College. Both Republican and Democratic candidates are certain to win a particular number of votes from their respective Safe States. These states are considered the base of support from which the respective candidate can draw a sufficient share of the electorate. It’s the other states called the Swing States or the Battleground States that make all the difference.
Comparison between Electoral Vote & Popular Vote System
The Electoral College is a two-part election. The first part is to conduct statewide elections for the presidential electors: this part is completely democratic. But the second part of the election is federalist. Electoral Vote is a system where the Electoral College members, presidential electors, choose the President of the United States. In comparison, the Popular Vote System allows citizens to vote directly for the President. Electoral Vote System adopts the ‘Winner takes all’ method, which means that all the electoral votes of a state will go to one candidate who wins the popular vote in that state apart from Nebraska and Maine. However, Popular Vote System results are based on the majority of national votes. According to the Electoral College, each of the 51 states’ electoral system is independent of each other. On the other hand, popular Vote system results are based on the total vote secured nationally. The number of Electoral Votes has stayed the same since 1964, which is 538. Two hundred seventy electoral votes are required to win the elections. The popular Vote System depends upon the number of citizens who are voters.
The Superior Method
Electoral Vote System is in place for more than two hundred years and maintained a stable government and safe power transfer after every presidential election. However, some people think of the Electoral College as undemocratic and archaic and think that this system should be abolished. Is it really going to happen anytime soon? Some people allege that the Electoral College has a Republican Bias or Democratic Bias. Critics of the Electoral College argue that the states with more electoral votes are benefitted more by this system. It is because of population disparity that gives more densely populated states more advantages over smaller states.
Another reason why Electoral College is said to be a flawed system is that the Swing States are spotlighted by the candidates the most, and the other Safe States are usually neglected during General Election. Presidential Candidates spend most of their advertising funds in the Swing States and carry most of their campaigns there, as the outcome of these states is uncertain. According to the records, in the United States Election of 2016, both Republican and Democratic candidates spent 71% of their advertising money and 51% of their campaign appearances in just four states, namely Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. For true democracy in a country, it is extremely important that each and every vote is valued, and the President should be appointed by all men and women on an equal basis. However, the history of the United States Elections has shown that winning the majority of the votes nationwide does not make you the President of the United States. These are the five out forty-five presidents of the United States who lost the Popular Vote but won the Electoral Vote:
Despite all of the facts mentioned above, the Electoral College still provides many benefits that often go unrecognized by the general public. This system still has some advantages over Popular Vote. Electoral College encourages coalition-building as it requires Americans to collaborate in a spirit of mutual understanding and rise above the feelings of separateness. Moreover, Electoral College discourages electoral fraud as with the Popular Vote System, chances of vote-rigging are greater and prevent a demagogue from getting into power. Electoral College also prevents the need for recounts and runoff elections. In a popular vote system, candidates could easily neglect small states and focus on the states that are more populated, like California or Texas, to secure more votes. However, with the Electoral College, candidates are forced to lead a more national campaign.
It can reasonably be concluded that the current Electoral College reinforces a system that deprives people of their choice, and such an archaic constitution should be modernized with amendments. The alternative system of Direct Vote does not seem to be in place anytime soon as many people still object to its certainty and believe that it would not be as successful as the Electoral Vote System has been for over 200 years. The most efficient solution is to opt for a middle way instead of the abolition of the Electoral College.