The issues with the Electoral College

The issues with the Electoral College

November 21
11:49 2016

Adam Silva

For once, I agree with President-elect Trump on something. For the second time in just 16 years, the candidate who got the most votes will not become president due to this outdated, undemocratic system.

As of this writing, Hillary Clinton leads Trump by more than 1 million votes and is expected to double when mainly Democratic strongholds like California finish counting ballots. Secretary Clinton will have received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history other than President Obama, yet the people will go ignored.

For those who do not understand how the Electoral College works and why this can happen, presidents are elected not by the national popular vote, but by electoral votes allocated to the states — equal to their number of senators and representatives — and the District of Columbia. Whoever gets 270 of the total 538 electoral votes is elected president. If no one gets to 270, the House of Representatives votes for the next president.

Now when we go to vote, we are actually casting our votes for a slate of electors who will vote for our candidate should they win a plurality of the vote in that state. The problem is that electoral votes are not proportionally allocated. Whatever candidate wins the most votes, by however small a percentage, gets all of that states’ electoral votes.

So while Trump won Michigan by less than a percentage point — 47.6 percent to Clinton’s 47.3 percent — and a majority of voters chose someone else, he was awarded all of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. This created the scenario in which Trump could lose the national popular vote, but win the requisite number of electoral votes.

It also means that if you’re a Democrat in a red state like Texas, or a Republican in a blue state like California, your vote is essentially worthless because the candidate of the other party is guaranteed to win all of your state’s electoral votes; whereas every vote would matter using the national popular vote. Instead of spending all their time in “swing states,” candidates would have to campaign nationally. After all, they are attempting to be the next president of the United States.

Unfortunately, there’s little chance of outright abolishing the Electoral College. It would take a Constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, with three-fourths from the states.

Republicans currently control Congress and would never go for changing a system that clearly benefits their candidates. Likewise, Republican states would also not want to see their disproportionate influences reduced.

But some states have figured out another way to ensure the popular vote winner becomes president through the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. States who enter into the compact agree to allocate their electoral votes to whomever the national popular vote winner is once enough other states have entered to amount to at least 270 electoral votes. To date, 10 states, and Washington, D.C. have passed national popular vote legislation, bringing the current total to 165 electoral votes.

If you favor true democracy and want to see this law take effect, write to your legislators by visiting www.nationalpopularvote.com.

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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