Preserve or Abolish?: Electoral Colleges

Recently in class we have been discussing the electoral college during our group projects and some of the discussions have sparked me to dig a little deeper so that I might understand the views of other people on this issue. I did some research and read some articles that argued on both sides of the spectrum. An article by William C. Kimberling really stood out to me during my search. While I personally don’t agree with all of the pros and cons he presents to preserve the electoral colleges, there are some interesting points that he brings up.

Democrat: 266    Al Gore – Popular Vote: 50,999,897

Republican: 271    George W. Bush – Popular Vote: 50,456,002

In the 2000 election between Al Gore and former President George Bush, one of the most controversial issues with the electoral college became a reality. The winning candidate, George Bush, did not have the popular vote of the American people which made him a minority president. He won because he beat Al Gore in electoral votes by only the small margin of 5 votes, that means one state flipping Democratic would have made Al Gore the new president. The issue with President Bush winning is the fact that the majority of the American people didn’t want him to win. Is this really an accurate representation of the American people if the majority of their votes go to the losing candidate? I would argue that this single election is the perfect example of the failure of the electoral college system. The president of the United States should be the person that the majority of the American people support. If a president comes into office with over half of the American people supporting another man, he’s instantly in a hole that he has to dig out of in order to be productive during his presidency.

There’s a theory opponents of the electoral colleges present that Kimberling and I disagree with. The electoral colleges discourage voter turnouts because Americans don’t feel like their votes hold any value in their states. While I don’t think this idea is wrong because I do feel Americans are not accurately represented, I don’t believe that it is the sole purpose for low voter turnout. There are a number of reasons for lower voter percentages in certain states. From lack of motivation, inability to go out and vote, or laziness, voter turnouts are decreasing whether the electoral college has anything to do with it or not. It’s hard to say that more people would or would not start voting if the electoral college was abolished but I personally don’t think it will have any effect on the amount of voters.

On the other side of the spectrum that favors the preservation of the electoral colleges, it is believed that the electoral colleges keep political stability by encouraging a two party system. This concept really intrigues me because it is extremely difficult for third parties to gain enough support in states to receive electoral votes. I don’t mind the fact there are only two political parties but I think that third parties should at least be given a chance to represented in an election. Suppose a third party wins over 30% of the American vote but because of the way the votes are spread, the candidate doesn’t receive any of the votes. Does that seem like an accurate representation of the American people? I don’t think it does.

My solution is this: We should abolish the electoral colleges so that the popular opinion of the American people can be accommodated too. Voters will feel more valuable if their votes are actually the determining factor of the election as opposed to the votes of the colleges. Instead of an all or nothing system, America needs to design a system that’s fair to everyone on the country.

 http://electoralmap.net/PastElections/past_elections.php?year=2000

http://uselectionatlas.org/INFORMATION/INFORMATION/electcollege_procon.php

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