Opinion: The Electoral College is outdated
December 12, 2016
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The route to the White House is a long and twisty road full of campaigning, policies, and political treachery. At the end of the 18-month journey, it all comes down to one day: Election Day. The nation watches as states turn red and blue and one candidate gains the electoral votes to come out on top. However, the Electoral College is unfair and should be swapped for a simple popular vote because it discounts votes, favors voters in swing states, and alters elections. The Electoral College counts votes based on state lines. Whichever candidate gets the most votes in each state wins that whole state and all of its electoral votes, disregarding all votes against that candidate.
The United States has typically been broken into three types of states as elections roll around: blue (solidly Democratic) states, red (solidly Republican) states, and swing states, which could go either way between the two major parties.
In two of our last five elections, we’ve had a candidate win the popular vote, but not the Electoral College, and therefore lose the election. This year, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, receiving more votes than Donald Trump, yet she still lost the election by a fair margin. More Americans decided to vote for Clinton over Trump, with over 62,523,126 people choosing her as their next president, but because she lost the Electoral College, 62,523,126 plus voices don’t count for anything but a concession speech.
Minority party voters in heavily blue and heavily red states have almost no way of getting their voices heard, nor their votes counted. In this last election, if a Massachusetts citizen wanted to vote for Donald Trump, they might as well have written in their own name on the bottom of the ballot, because their vote wouldn’t have had much of an effect. The Electoral College discounts votes from voters in every state. From swing states to hard right or lefties, if your candidate can’t get more votes from your state than their opposition, then your vote, along with thousands, sometimes millions, of others gets thrown out. Your vote counts for nothing towards getting your candidate in the Oval Office. If the Electoral College were replaced with the popular vote, every citizen’s vote would be counted, every voice heard, there would be so much more of a motivation to vote and election turnouts would be so much higher.
Swing States are undecided territory; they could go with either candidate so they get more campaign coverage and influence in the election, ultimately giving swing states more power. Citizens in swing states seem to become more important than citizens in states that lean either way. Take Illinois, a blue leaning state since the beginning of Bill Clinton’s election: Because Illinois has been on the Democratic side of elections for the past 20+ years, it was clearly going for Hillary Clinton from the beginning. They have the same twenty electoral votes as swing state Pennsylvania, but because Illinois was off the board and off campaign radars, more time and capital was concentrated on Pennsylvania. Voters in the Keystone state seemed to have more influence on who landed in the White House, not because they had more electoral votes but because in order to win the Electoral College a candidate has to win the majority of swing states. The Electoral College favors voters in swing states because voters in swing states have more influence on the election than voters in normal red and blue states. Swing states are the only states where every single vote truly counts. If we swapped to the popular vote, every vote would count regardless of state lines.
The Electoral College is a completely outdated system; it’s far too old to still be the way we elect the next leader of the free world. The Electoral College gives no power to the minority party voters in red or blue states, unfairly empowers voters in swing states, and it alters elections. The Electoral College is a terrible way to elect a world leader and should be swapped for the popular vote. Every voice and vote should count, not just those in swing states. With a popular vote, voter turnout could skyrocket, every vote would be equal, and millions of votes would count for something more.
Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.