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Abolishing the Electoral College: A Pathway to Democracy

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Although thought to be needed when America was founded, the Electoral College now needs to be replaced with a direct election to further promote democracy and to level the playing field in presidential elections for voters, candidates, and third parties. Without this change the Electoral College will continue to do what it has done: skew elections and discourage voters as well as new political parties alike.

The Supreme Court ruling of "One Person, One Vote" directly and rightfully opposes the existence of the Electoral College. When cases came forward concerning reapportionment of districts the Supreme Court ruled with the famous quote "One Person, One Vote." This meant that rural congressional districts and urban congressional districts had to be divided equally by population instead of area so that each vote cast in any certain district counted roughly the same in any other district. This logic with congressional districts makes complete sense and few disagree that everyone's vote should be equal. However, when one examines how votes count from state to state in the Electoral College, the "One Person, One Vote" logic is not present. For example, compare the electoral votes and populations of New York and Wyoming. New York has a total population of roughly 19 million and has 31 electoral votes, which means about 1.05 million people account for each electoral vote. Wyoming, on the other hand, is much smaller with a population of approximately 525 thousand people, meaning just 175 thousand people account for each of their three electoral votes. What does this all mean? Wyoming citizens' votes count six times more towards electing a president than New Yorkers' votes (Berthoud, 1997, 192). By using the Electoral College, the way single votes count towards electoral votes is skewed in favor of less populous states like Wyoming and makes votes less valuable in large states such as New York. This directly defies what the Supreme Court has laid out in its rulings on voting and is further skewed when taking voter turnout into account. Though it may seem like small states have a huge advantage in voting, according to larger state voters wield more power since, in terms of percents, voter turnout is smaller in large states. When compared again, Wyoming voters' votes are worth only four times as much as New Yorkers' votes when factoring in voter turnout instead of the previous six times as much based solely on population. No matter how one looks at the way votes currently count towards the election of a president, it is still not a truly democratic process since some votes are worth more or less than others, creating inequality throughout America. This has caused problems for both Republicans and Democrats in the past and one may easily speculate there will continue to be problems with the system in the future.

In the past, both prominent parties have been wronged by the Electoral College and will get the same results in the future. Starting back with the election of 1800, both Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied in electoral votes. The decision then went to the House of Representatives and Thomas Jefferson was eventually elected (Spitzer, 2005). In the 1824 election, there were four candidates who divided the votes between them. No candidate received a majority, so the election decision fell again to the House of Representatives, which selected Adams to be president though Jackson had more electoral and popular votes (Spitzer, 2005). In the election of 1876, Samuel Tilden had about 250,000 more popular votes than Rutherford Hayes, but lost the election by an electoral vote of 185 to 184 (Spitzer, 2005). The 1888 election also ended with the popular vote winner losing the election; Grover Cleveland received about 100,000 votes than Benjamin Harrison, but Harrison easily won the electoral vote of 233 to 168. Cleveland won overwhelmingly in the 18 states that went for him, but Harrison managed only minor victories in most of his 20 larger states (Spitzer, 2005). In the infamous and recent election of 2000, Al Gore received over 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush, but lost the electoral vote by a 271 to 266 count (Spitzer, 2005). These failures are due in part to two major flaws with the Electoral College. First, a tie or failure to get a majority of electoral votes goes to the House of Representatives who then elects the President. This is especially a problem when looking back at the election of 1824 when Adams became president even though he received less popular votes and electoral votes than Jackson, yet was the next president. Second, the fact that one candidate has won an election through electoral votes, but did not gain the support of the citizens in the country as a whole four times in our history is the most undemocratic thing imaginable. In fact, by placing as low as 27% of the popular vote in the correct states and winning by the smallest margins, a candidate can win a presidential election (Harvard Law Review, 2001, 2532). Though this is an extreme example and is likely to never happen, just the fact that well under half of the country could sway the vote that much should be disgusting for every American to hear. In recent years the Republicans have benefited from the weight of small states since they typically win these states, giving them an edge due to the concentrated electoral votes and low populations (Berthoud, 1997, 191). On that same note though, Democrats have had an advantage at taking large states like California and New York which also gives them an unfair advantage since these large states are worth substantially more electoral votes and are usually won



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