Cross Currents: Should presidential elections be decided by the Electoral College?

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Illustration+by+Alloy+Zarate%2C+2020

Alloy Zarate

Illustration by Alloy Zarate, 2020

Jacob Frank and Alvaro Abrego Trancozo

There have been many elections where the victorious president did not win the popular vote in the United States. Many question if the U.S. is really a democracy. In reality, it’s more of a constitutional republic that utilizes something called the electoral college: groups of representatives from each state that make electoral decisions for the best interest of the people. But it doesn’t always turn out like that. Here are the arguments over whether America should keep the electoral college or favor the popular vote.

 

Jacob Frank, Opinion Editor

 

Abolishing the Electoral College opens up a can of political worms that I don’t think we are ready to handle. 

The reality is that America was never meant to be a true democracy; whether that’s what we want or not, we would have to reimagine foundational structures of the system to make it work — it would take much more than just getting rid of it.

At its inception in the late 1700s, leaders weren’t thrilled about the Electoral College. It was a compromise, though it may have protected the country from even more corruption and ignorance.

The Founding Fathers couldn’t trust congress to be faithful and integrable, and they couldn’t trust the people to be generally informed, let alone resistant to the propaganda from a dictator-type of president. 

So they created individual electors from each state, and here’s where things went wrong. 

They expected these electors to be independent, with no party preference. But today, most electors will vote loyally to their party. The weight of the right and the left now dominates the political landscape.

But I’m not sure the popular vote would fix that.

We should first address why these two parties are so prominent and why no other option is considered. I don’t think the country will go Green Party and suddenly change the system. 

Either way, the current electoral system isn’t great.

It’s not enough to say that the Electoral College is fair or gives states an equal playing field, especially when you grant two electoral votes to California who has more people than the 22 lowest states (44 votes) combined.

Still, we have to be cautious. Now back to the worms.

Turning the presidential election into a popular vote could open the doors for everything else to be a popular vote: supreme court justices, cabinet members and even every law and issue that’s debated on the Senate floor each day.

Should every citizen vote for every law? Should every student vote for every teacher, administrator and president at their college? Maybe. 

But for now, it is in the hands of a few trusted representatives; and if we don’t actually trust those representatives, then that says something else about the system as a whole.

 

Alvaro Abrego Trancozo, Staff Writer

 

Past elections have shown that the electoral college is usually the real decision-maker.

The President should be determined by popular vote and not the electoral college. The United States should be considered a democracy, that is why the candidates’ names are on the ballots.

If the president wasn’t elected by the electoral college then citizens would have a greater chance to vote for other parties than Democrat or Republican. At first glance, it appears that the US is only a two-party system, but this country also has smaller parties. Since the electoral college plays a key role in the election, these parties are left out. It basically means that the electoral college prohibits these smaller parties from having a voice in larger government actions.

According to an article by Forbes, “In a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on May 12, 83% of Americans said there are serious problems with our two-party system. Many have repeatedly said that they want more choices than just those offered by the Republicans and Democrats.”

The Electoral College has been around since the early 1800s, but there must be a change to make it seem like we are not living in the past. The fact that the Electoral College system is being discussed means a change needs to be done. If the popular vote doesn’t allow you to choose the president, then the presidential candidates shouldn’t even be on the ballot. If the popular vote has a greater role in the election process, then it would also give people more options to vote from. It won’t disenfranchise anyone, and there will be a chance to try out something new.