Collegiate Chaos: The Electoral College


The Electoral College Map in the 2016 election

Aidan May, Writer

America has many institutions that have been around since the nation’s founding. None of which is as symbolic and confusing as the Electoral College. Now many candidates have proposed getting rid of the electoral college because it does not work for the people due to how its set up. Others consider it a major institution of the American political system. Yet many are still baffled by it and how we chose our president as opposed to other countries. Others consider it a tool of the elite and the suppression of the majority and the voice of democracy.

The real predicament is how exactly do candidates get the votes of a state. The college consists of 538 electors that meet during the general election. They are usually elected the same way as any other government position by the population of a state. In a majority of the U.S., whoever wins the popular vote of that state gets all of the electoral votes from that state. The amount of votes each state gets is proportionate to its population. Nebraska and Maine work differently, both have three electoral votes and two are set aside for the popular vote and one is for the congressional districts.  You need a 270 majority in the electoral college to win the presidency. 

There is a huge debate on whether or not this should still be in effect. In several cases, a candidate lost the popular vote but won the 270 majority. Another issue brought up is that smaller states with fewer votes are overshadowed by the states with the most since they are the most focused on winning. When the United States were founded, the states did not have such large differences in population. But it does not, “work as efficiently as it did 200 years ago,”(Travis Wimberly ’22). So it is marginally disproportionate where the bigger states get to decide who will run the country. Since we have grown as a country and the population is not evenly dispersed around the states the bigger states get the most say. Many candidates running in 2020 have proposed either a popular vote system or tweaking the current system to where it works for every voter. Nonetheless, others believe the polar opposite. 

The Electoral College is a unique way of democratically selecting leaders which is one reason many think the system is fine as is. Since it has, “been our system for 240 years and it makes sense,”(Nick Hayes ‘21) it must be a good one. The position of this group of people is that it makes the smaller states have a voice and keeps the two-party system preserved for stability reasons. The founding fathers’ intention for the college was to counteract human negative impulses for the sake of democracy and to ensure the best choice for the nation. 

This does remain a very controversial issue involving one of the nation’s oldest institutions. It is unlikely that it will be dissolved but it is a looming threat to its supporters. Many are set on either reform or tradition and it seems to split people down the middle. It has been a heavy subject of the upcoming election and it doesn’t seem to be going away soon. It is a very important issue that should not be taken lightly.