Electoral college stymies democracy

Max Schachere, Staff Writer

Political pundits often say “As goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” This is a truism the public will undoubtedly be reminded of as the presidential campaign season comes to climax, as Ohio is often considered to be the single most important state for a president to win during a general election. In fact, no Republican has ever been elected without winning Ohio. But why is Ohio so important? It contains less than 4 percent of the national population and is not particularly strong economically. But because of the Electoral College, the fate of a single state can determine the leader of the free world.

During the general election, there are only 538 votes that actually matter. Although not required by law, each state’s electors typically vote for the candidate who won the majority of votes in their state. Regardless of whether the state vote was an 80 percent majority or a 51 percent majority, all electoral votes go to the same candidate — except in Nebraska and Maine. Additionally, the distribution of electors results in a country where citizens have disproportionate voting power depending on where they live. For example, Wyoming has only 500,000 residents, yet still has three electoral votes — the minimum. California, on the other hand, has almost 39 million residents, yet only has 55 electoral votes. This means that a Wyoming voter has a ballot that is almost four times stronger than California’s.

If the idea of “one person, one vote” is to be upheld in the 21st century, the U.S. government must dismantle the Electoral College. In its place would stand a popular vote, where the president is elected based on the raw majority of votes. This is a huge problem in the status quo, as there have been four instances when a president was voted into office by the Electoral College yet lost the popular vote, most recently in 2000 where Al Gore garnered 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush yet still lost the election. The notion that someone can earn a majority of votes and still lose an election is a direct violation of the core tenet of a democracy. In 2012, only 58.2 percent of eligible voters voted in the general election. There are several reasons why people opt not to vote. Unquestionably, one of the main issues is that people view their ballot as worthless. If a Democrat votes in Texas, they are effectively not voting at all. Abolishing the Electoral College will incentivize people across the country to vote.

A democracy is only as strong as those who choose participate in it. There are a plethora of problems that plague the current U.S. voting system — the Electoral College does not need to be one of them.

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Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the November 2 print edition. Email Max Schachere at [email protected]

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1 COMMENT

  1. Presidential elections don’t have to continue to be dominated by and determined by a handful of swing states besieged with attention, while most of the country, like New York, is politically irrelevant.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.
    New York has enacted it.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80%+ of the states, like New York, that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    The National Popular Vote bill would take effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
    All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

    The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote

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