With the fury over the latest presidential election, many have turned to the argument, that the electoral college is either out dated or simply doesn’t work. Many Americans want to completely ditch this way of voting and move to using popular vote as our way of deciding the future president. What many don’t realize is there is a reason things are done this way and why this system, put in place by our founding fathers over 200 years ago, still works for us today.
To understand why the Electoral college works you have to first know how it works. So I am going to put it as simply as I can. Our founding fathers spent an enormous amount of time debating on how the president should be chosen, they wanted to be sure that all states regardless of their population had some say in who was elected. To do this they came up with people called Electors, who are nominated by political parties of each state. To determine how many Electors each state has they took the population of that state into consideration. To start off each state automatically receives 2 electors (the number of senators each state is allotted) then from there they also receive 1 elector for each US representative they have in congress (this number can change every 10 years seeing as how it is determined by the population of that state) For example Texas has 36 house representatives (add that to the two automatic electors they get) this means Texas received a total of 38 electoral votes in the last election.
Higher populated states receive more electoral votes. (as seen above)
Lets continue with Texas for a minute. Texas residents cast their vote, from there they count those votes and determine which candidate won the popular vote ( in this case trump) the Electors of Texas then cast all 38 of their electoral votes toward Trump, hence Trump won Texas. All states except one (Maine) use this “winner take all” system. From here you simply add up the Electoral votes each candidate won to determine the winner. There are a total of 538 electoral votes, a presidential candidate must win the majority of 270 votes to win an election.
Now this may seem a bit more complicated than just counting a popular vote, but there is a reason it is done this way. The electoral college is essential to keeping the united states up and running and making sure every citizen, in every state is considered when it comes to making decisions.
Lets just pretend we used the popular vote method, its coming up on election time, and candidates are campaigning.
Looking at the population map above where do you think they would focus their energy? obviously if they want to win they would try to appeal to the highest populated cities to ensure their votes, Places like LA, New York City, Chicago, and Houston. They would also propose policy changes that would benefit and cater to the people living in those cities. States like New Mexico, and the entire mid west would be forgotten about, their interests and needs not heard because they simply are not populated enough for their votes to make a difference. Many may not see a problem with this, However forgetting about those states could have a drastic effect on larger cities.
The First map shown above is one of wind farms (America’s largest source of renewable energy capacity over time) And the second map is the locations of Factory farms that provide food all over America. There is a Clear correlation between these two maps and the one above showing population density, As the population decreases the amount of factories and farms increases, simply because they need space to operate. Where there are farms there need to be people, and those people need their voices heard regarding policy changes too, because they don’t live the “big city life”.
Under popular vote those men and women get no recognition, and no help making rural life easier. So what do they do? They leave. They leave their farms, and move to big cities where their voices are heard. Here in lies the problem, big cities don’t have the capability of providing for their residents, they rely on those rural areas to provide food and commodities, if there is no one there to farm, large cities will soon find themselves in quite a bit of trouble. Too many people, not enough recourses, and no room to provide for themselves.
The Electoral college makes sure that these less populated areas have enough of a say to make a difference. Their number of electoral votes may not be huge, like Texas or California, but in quite a few elections these states have led to the winning of a certain candidate. This last election is the perfect example, of the top 6 most populated states Trump won 3 and Clinton won 3, making their total 87 (trump) and 104 (Clinton). However because Trump appealed to those lower populated areas more than Clinton did, he came out ahead by winning 30 states (the entire south east and the majority of the mid west) making his total 306 electoral votes, well over the needed 270 to win.
Now this is where people get angry because technically Hillary Clinton won the popular vote (depending on who you ask) this isn’t a common occurrence but it does happen. However it doesn’t matter, it is irrelevant. Hillary spent the majority of her time campaigning and appealing to larger populations it would make sense she would win the popular vote the fact that she took California (the highest populated area in the united states with over 10 million more people that its runner up Texas) accounts for those extra 2 million votes she received. The question now is should those 2 million people alone hold the fate of the entire country (over 300 million people)? No, for the reasons I explained earlier, big cities should not decide the fate of an entire nation, especially one as large and diverse as ours.
As much as some may not have liked the outcome of this election or ones before it, the electoral college does in fact work, and has worked for the 200+ years since our founding fathers decided on it.