Should the U.S. abolish the Electoral College? | The Tylt
Should the U.S. abolish the Electoral College?
The Electoral College has been written into the very fabric of our nation's elections. Allen Guelzo and James Hulme, a historian and attorney respectively, argued passionately for the continued existence of the Electoral College in a 2016 Washington Post op-ed. The duo claims the nation is based on representative democracy, of which the Electoral College is a critical part. Citizens do not vote directly on every piece of legislation, they elect representatives. Through the Electoral College, they are basically voting for their representatives to cast votes for the president.
Additionally, the institution was created to provide a safeguard between what the founders saw as the capricious will of the people and the executive branch. According to Guelzo and Hulme, the founders worried a president put into power based on nothing more than the popular vote could mistake "popular election as a mandate for dictatorship." The pair argue the Electoral College is a stabilizing and critical part of American democracy and should remain in place.
The electoral college was an integral part of that federal plan. It made a place for the states as well as the people in electing the president by giving them a say at different points in a federal process and preventing big-city populations from dominating the election of a president.
Abolishing the electoral college now might satisfy an irritated yearning for direct democracy, but it would also mean dismantling federalism. After that, there would be no sense in having a Senate (which, after all, represents the interests of the states), and further along, no sense even in having states, except as administrative departments of the central government. Those who wish to abolish the electoral college ought to go the distance, and do away with the entire federal system and perhaps even retire the Constitution, since the federalism it was designed to embody would have disappeared.
Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren disagrees with this assertion, claiming the Electoral College is a relic from a bygone era and much less equal time. During a town hall in Jackson, Mississippi, Warren claimed the Electoral College was yet another method of disenfranchising voters, taking away the power of individual votes.
Not only that, Warren said candidates are forced to run for electoral votes rather than individual votes, dramatically changing where they visit and to whom they talk. Presidential candidates, according to Warren, rarely visit states like Mississippi, as their electoral votes are typically already accounted for.
“I believe we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and makes sure that vote gets counted,” Ms. Warren said in response to a question about voter disenfranchisement. “We need to put some federal muscle behind that, and we need to repeal every one of the voter suppression laws that is out there.”
...“Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College,” Ms. Warren said, drawing one of her longest ovations of the night.
Those in favor of maintaining states' rights, though, say the Electoral College is critical to this mission. The Electoral College is meant to distribute power more evenly to states, rather than concentrating it in densely populated urban areas. Per Fox News:
The Electoral College, just like our Senate, gives primacy to states as an institution within our federal republic. It reinforces the role that states have in being distinct political entities nonetheless firmly and irrevocably united in our national system.
Furthermore, just like the Senate, the Electoral College gives smaller states a larger voice in comparison to bigger states. We see even in our modern day how many popular vote republics, whether with Catalonia in Spain, Northern Italy, or other regional separatist movements across the world how pure democracy often leads smaller regions to feel isolated, powerless and eventually oppressed.
Two recent elections have ended with the ascendancy of a president who did not win the popular vote. In 2000, Al Gore defeated George W. Bush in the popular vote, only to have his opponent take office on the strength of his electoral vote. In 2016, Donald Trump did the same after Hillary Clinton won more popular votes.
Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts argued this is cause enough to abolish the Electoral College in a March 2019 op-ed for the Washington Post.
We all know the obvious reason this needs to be replaced with a popular-vote system: In 2016, approximately 3 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, and yet, Trump is the president. This is not wrong because Trump is a bad president; it’s wrong because it’s unfair to have some Americans’ votes count more than others — just like it was wrong in when a similar thing happened in 2000, 1888 and 1876.
Moulton said the Electoral College should be abolished using one of two methods—a constitutional amendment which would disband it outright or a "national popular-vote compact." These compacts, which are gaining in popularity, would see states signing a pledge that they would order their electoral delegates to cast their votes for the winner of the national popular vote. As of March 2019, 11 states and Washington, D.C., with 172 electoral votes total, have signed the compact.