Electoral College


An Electoral College refers to a body of electors that the American Constitution charges with the mandate of electing the president and the vice president of the United States. According to the system, each state is assigned a particular number of electors who more often than not vote in line with the popular will of the electorate in each state. Notably, a candidate becomes the president if he or she manages to win states whose total electoral votes’ amount to 270 (Williams 17). In total, the American electoral votes are 538, whose fifty percent plus one electoral vote translates into 270. In that sense, the overall popular vote does not count, and the implication is that a candidate can win the popular vote as Hillary Clinton did in the recent US presidential elections because her votes did translate into 232 electoral votes against Donald Trump’s 309. However, the system has faced criticisms, and a proposal for the National Popular Vote Plan has been put into consideration to enable electors to support a candidate who wins the popular vote (Miller 183). Nonetheless, in this paper, I will argue against such a proposal and support the Electoral College system for presidential elections.

The framers of the Constitution of the United States settled on the Electoral College system after engaging in rigorous and vigorous debates and compromises. The system has incredibly worked so well for the last two centuries since its conception despite its occasional challenges (Williams 27). Moreover, the system has sustained the stability needed in electing a president and fairly represents the popular will of the people not only in one state but also across the entire country. Direct democracy for the USA would mean that a few states with high populations would elect a president even against the will of other many small states. The framers saw it wise to empower all states, big and small to have equal chances of electing a president.

Despite correlating with the popular vote in most occasions, the electors’ system has produced presidents who did not garner the popular vote as in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 as well as 2016. The framers had realized that many nations had been brought down before due to open democracy that often emanates from direct democracy through popular vote (Thompson 34). Additionally, they wanted to satisfy the demand for each state to have greater representation as well as striking a balance between popular sovereignty and the risks associated with direct democracy against minority groups from the rule of the majority. Opponents have argued that the system gives smaller states with more elective powers than larger states such as California and Texas. However, such an argument is flawed because every state must have a fair share and stake in electing a president and the system has ensured that all states matter in an election and has significantly cushioned minority states from the majoritarian rule.

The Founders’ system was a product of all side arguments and compromises. It represents a system that is not only well-balanced but also enduring, and the only thing that its critics would exercise is leaving the system intact. A popular vote plan would potentially destroy the nation since such a system would be subject to majoritarian rule with the biased and unfair characterization that may cause violence, loss of lives and property destruction as has been witnessed in many other countries especially in Africa (Bugh 411). The Founders of the Constitution were afraid of the destructive passions associated with democracy as well as the rule of an elite government that would be insensitive to the voice and will of the people. As one may realize, the Electoral College system was a compromise in the aspect that it was neither entirely democratic nor aristocratic. The system allows each state to have a certain number of electors that is commensurate with the number of its senators and representatives to which it is entitled in the Congress.

Apart from ensuring the protection of both individual rights and majority rule, the US Constitution intended to create a federalist system that would reserve most of the policymaking powers to states and localities (Ross 147). In a similar fashion, the Electoral College was designed in such a way that it empowered all states making presidential candidates appeal to all states and consider all concerns of Americans from all places (Bugh 412). For instance, farmers in Iowa have different concerns compared to bankers in California and the electoral system ensures that a presidential candidate addresses all concerns. Proponents of the National Popular Vote Plan have argued that the current electoral system has led to presidential campaigns in only swing states instead of traversing the entire country. I would term the plan as a bad policy that derives from mistaken assumptions.

First, the so-called swing states often change according to issues that candidates present to electorates every election cycle and often shift between the two principal political parties, Democratic and Republican. Second, the system is much fairer than a direct democracy that entirely relies on the popular vote because it ensures that a winner represents the interests of the majority of the states.  Third, the plan intends to make sure that electors vote according to national popular vote instead of state popular vote that is the current case, making it senseless to have electors (Ross 153). Fourth, small states would be held irrelevant in a presidential election since candidates would concentrate on larger states and eventually, the concerns of the people from smaller states would be ignored. Lastly, the current electoral system has created swing states that have made the American presidential elections more competitive and winning presidency means an adequate representation of the will of the people of the swing states.

The electoral system mandates the electors who are trusted to respect and champion the will of the individuals in each state. For example, when a candidate wins a state like Arizona, it is evident that the candidate will garner all the eleven electoral votes since the electors will respect the will of Arizona people and cast all their votes to the winner. Voting according to the national popular vote would mean that electors will be forced to disrespect the will and trust that their people have bestowed upon them and vote against their will.

The adoption and implementation of the National Popular Vote Plan would be ridiculous in the sense that every state must be allowed to support its favorite candidate both at individual and electoral levels. However, as the current system supports, the overall winner should be gauged by how many states have supported him or her and whether or not their separate electoral votes would enable him or her to garner the needed threshold of 270 electoral votes (Ross 167). Unlike direct democracy, the Electoral College ensures that a winner of the presidency gets votes across all states almost in equal measure. Attaining distributive mandate has provided cohesiveness of the nation due to the aspect that every candidate attracts support from every electoral base in every state. The Electoral College further makes every state part of the winning party since a winner must enjoy the distribution of support across the nation.

The Electoral College empowers states, regardless of their population size to fight for their interests in the federal government. Consequently, the system has ensured that every vote counts and that every state must retain its identity and power to elect the national president (Miller 177). The system also provides that the weight of smaller states’ votes are higher than those of larger states to ensure fairness in addressing the interests of minorities. Otherwise, direct democracy would encourage candidates to focus on the benefits of the major urban populations in a few states and still win at the expense of rural communities’ concerns.

The Electoral College has significantly contributed to the political stability of the country by creating a two-party system with different ideologies and policies through which electorates can choose a president (Thompson 38). For instance, direct democracy would mean bring complications to the 270 threshold causing potential constitutional crises that are not healthy for any country. The bar would be lower, many political formations based on personalities, and races would arise and kill the ideological considerations that have successfully driven American politics for over 200 years.

The Electoral College ensures a fair representation and an efficient federal system of governance. The number of electors coincides with 535 representatives in the Congress and plus the three electors from the District of Colombia that does not have representatives in the Congress (Ross 189). A system like direct democracy would not recognize the interests of the District of Columbia in selecting a national president. Direct democracy is known for overriding the interests of minority groups because of their smaller numbers in various jurisdictions across the world (Brams and Marc 12). In such democracies, leaders from minority groups have zero chances of being elected to the presidency. The Electoral College has made it possible for any presidential candidate with a right agenda for the country to ascend to the presidency regardless of gender, race or color. The system has transformed politics into a game of great ideas rather than a game of selfish interests as witnessed in some democracies using the national popular vote. Every presidential candidate has an equal chance of winning votes from all races depending on how his or her policies resonate well with the people.

In conclusion, the Electoral College is much better and safer than the National Popular Vote Plan suggested by its critics. The country stands to benefit from political inclusion, stability, and equal voter strength than in the case of a popular vote plan (Ross 158). For instance, the Electoral College ensures cohesiveness and recognizes the value of minorities’ votes. Moreover, it encourages political stability that is critical to the development of a nation through creating a two-party system with substantial agenda for the people.