The Electoral College discourages democracy

We need a system that reflects our real opinions


Atmika Iyer

This November, America chose Donald Trump to be its president-elect. However, he won not the majority of votes from American citizens — the popular vote, in other words — but the majority of votes from the Electoral College. In response to this, avid Hillary Clinton supporter Senator Barbara Boxer proposed a bill to amend the Constitution and eliminate the Electoral College.

“The presidency is the only office where you can get more votes [and] still lose. It’s time to end the Electoral College,” Boxer tweeted Nov. 15, a week after Trump was elected.

Although her bill will most likely not pass, Senator Boxer has started a conversation. Should we go down a path that leads to the elimination of the Electoral College? If this were to happen, presidential candidates would be chosen directly by popular vote, ensuring that the “government is of the people, by the people and for the people.”

In case you didn’t know, the Electoral College is a system that was set forth in 1787, in which electors are dispersed throughout the country to represent each state. The amount of electors in each state largely depends on the size of its population — mainly, the sum of the congressional seats each state has in the House and Senate.

Admittedly, electors who do not pick the president that the majority of people from their state chose, or faithless electors, are not too much of a problem during elections, and there is often a penalty for faithless electors. However, as seen in the last election, the Electoral College often ends up overturning the choice of the majority of United States’ citizens.

So it’s time that the electoral vote reflects how far we’ve come as a nation — perhaps by becoming secondary to the popular vote.”

Originally, the Electoral College was created for two reasons. First, so that small states and anti-federalists would agree to the Constitution — where even the small states would have power in choosing the president. It also protected the nation from the biased or uninformed decisions of uneducated citizens.

At the time, were these good reasons? Definitely! But in today’s day and age, we identify as Americans, not Californians or Kentuckians. And our citizens are smart enough to make the decision that they deem fit.

More people now have access to technology and other resources to be informed about candidates and their policies before voting. And education is more widespread, especially in recent decades. So it’s time that the electoral vote reflects how far we’ve come as a nation — perhaps by becoming secondary to the popular vote.

I have to admit: at first, I thought, “Who are we to destroy a process that is centuries old, created by the founding fathers of the United States?” But then I realized how strange it is that, despite being a democracy, and despite almost universalizing public education, our country still yields abundant power to the Electoral College — so much that a smidgen of the entire nation’s population can completely derail the voice of the majority. A true democracy should reflect the opinions of all its citizens, not just 538 elites.

From first lady Michelle Obama to the rapper T.I., there have been plenty of voices encouraging everyone to vote. And ideally, it is our duty as U.S. citizens to make that contribution! But I, for one, don’t see the point of going out to vote in California, a solid Democratic state. Here, a voter needn’t even bother voting Republican or Independent because such a candidate simply can’t win.

As citizens of a longstanding democracy, it is our right to have our voices heard and our votes counted. The Electoral College does nothing but hinder that.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the Electoral College because of the outcome of this election. It’s simply an archaic system which gives too much power to a minuscule group of people within the government.

As an American citizen and future voter, I am disheartened to realize that my vote simply counts towards the meaningless popular vote — announced on CNN and Fox News two weeks after the election.

Knowing that a few swing states decide elections is not democracy — and it’s a disincentive to voting.