BOZTEPE: Popular vote trumps Electoral College
Simply put, every vote should count.
If we, as the U.S., constantly boast about how much we value democracy and how intuitive and fair we are, then we should get rid of the Electoral College and make sure every vote matters. This is where this discussion gets dicey, as the majority of Democrats are in favor for the end of the Electoral College, but the Republicans are unwilling to let it go.
Throughout this piece I will be discussing everything wrong with the Electoral College.
To give as modern as an example I can, I will direct your attention to the 2016 election. Hilary Clinton astoundingly won the popular vote, meaning she received more individual votes than President Donald J. Trump, yet he won the majority of the votes from the Electoral College, which consists of 538 electors from all 50 states.
These 538 people get to have the final vote for the population of the U.S., which stands at 327.2 million people. The truth is, the Electoral College benefits the Republican Party, which is why it is so adamant to protect it.
The Grand Old Party (GOP) has lost the last 6 out of 7 presidential elections, yet the Electoral College is known to give an astonishing influence to whiter, more rural states, which causes the conservative Republicans to continue to protect the Electoral College for cycles to come.
A hysterical argument regarding why not to abolish it, is that they think it would have a bad effect and white people would have less political power. Former Maine Governor Paul LePage said, “white people will not have anything to say. It is only going to be the minorities that would elect. It would be California, Texas, Florida.” Of those in California, Texas and Florida, approximately 70% identify as white, therefore completely destroying that unfounded argument, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Another issue is that small states are normally excessively represented, such as New Jersey, which has 14 Electoral votes compared to Wyoming's three votes. Smaller states are normally whiter and wealthier, meaning they have a majority of the votes in comparison to a state like Virginia, which has 13 Electoral votes, although Virginia is approximately five times bigger than New Jersey.
Speaking of unfair, the Democratic and Republican Parties have both developed bases in specific states that are all but guaranteed to vote for one party or the other. By this, I mean California almost always votes Democratic and Oklahoma almost always voting Republican.
I mention this because it shows each party has a base and specific states that always vote for them, meaning that the Electoral College really comes down to the swing states.
The swing states have a dominance over the end result, meaning that if Clinton won New York by 99% or by 3%, it would not have mattered, since she would get the same number of electoral votes regardless. But Clinton losing Florida, which is a swing state — even if she loses by just .1% — is detrimental because it would mean that 29 electoral votes would have gone to the Republicans.
This brings me to my main point about how undemocratic this system is. When the general election comes in November, the two candidates can actually just ignore every noncompetitive or low numbered electoral college states, and focus on the swing states and the high numbered electoral college states.
The two candidates will pour all their money into those specific states, as it is the most strategic way to get to the number of 270, which all but wins the election. Seems unfair, right?
If we actually tallied the amount of people who voted and strictly focused on the popular vote and every vote actually made a difference, then more people would actually go out and vote and it would be the majority of the U.S. that would win as a whole and truly be a democratic country.
Media outlets have largely criticized American citizens for not going out to vote, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau that in 2016 only 61.4% of people voted. But the criticism is unfounded, as people in certain states realized their vote barely mattered and did not hold the weight as someone who lives in the swing states for example.
If the Democrats win the Senate and the House, then for the first time in a long time, there might actually be action taken against the Electoral College instead of just talk.
Kaan Jon Boztepe is a School of Arts and Sciences senior double majoring in philosophy and history. His column, "Kaanotations," typically runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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