The Electoral College System
The Electoral College is a significant body of individuals chosen to represent the states of America in electing the President. In doubt of voting effectiveness, the Electoral College was formed by the Founding Fathers or the Framers of the Nation to ensure citizens of America elect the best Presidential candidate. The Electoral College is comprised of 538 electors, the total combinations of states’ Senate and the delegates of the House of Representatives. Currently, a majority of 270 votes out of 538 is recommended to win the Presidential election, however, if the limit is not attained the House of Representatives elects the President while the Senate elects the Vice President through the Contingent Election. The United States is presently experiencing a controversial question of whether the representative Electoral College should be replaced with the direct Popular Vote Mechanism. This paper focuses on the process, advantages, and disadvantages of the Electoral College.
The Role of Electors
In every United States’ Presidential year, the political parties select a group of electors who vote for their respective Presidential candidate. According to Article Two of the Constitution, "Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the States may be entitled in the Congress" (U.S Const. Art 2, SS 2). The District of Columbia is treated like a distinct state and is provided with three electors under the 23rd constitution amendment which states "The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress" (U.S Const. Amendment 23). During the November election, the Americans vote for the elector-candidates, who in return vote on behalf of their state in the Vice and Presidential elections. The ballot winning popular votes is chosen using the system of winner-take-all.
The Winner-Take-All System
The winner-take-all system is also referred as the plural voting mechanism which awards the candidate possessing the majority votes all the votes for the respective state. Through the Electoral College, the electors gather and cast votes for their respective Vice President and the President (LeVert, 2012). On January 6 of the following year, the results of the electoral votes are tallied, certified, and the President of the Senate declares who has been elected as the next President and Vice President of the United States. Therefore, the Electoral College is an indirect body responsible for electing the President of the United States.
Debate Over Popular Vote System
In America, there has been a challenging and debatable question of whether the Electoral College should be abolished and be replaced with Popular Vote System. In the Popular Vote System, the winner is basically the candidate who attains the highest or majority votes nationwide. In the United States where the Presidential election is decided by the votes of electors in the Electoral College, the winner acknowledged by the popular votes may eventually lose the election, like the case of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Al Gore in 2000 (LeVert, 2012). This has led many researchers to criticize the Electoral College for its shortcomings including confusion, however, the college is still effective since the Constitutional Convention of 1787. To gain a better insight of Electoral College, the following are some of its advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of the Electoral College
The main advantage of the Electoral College system is promoting fairness in the United States (Sheehan, 2014). The system encourages the winning candidate to possess a widespread nation’s support in terms of leading and offering solutions to Americans problems rather than winning because of fame. The Electoral College promotes health cohesiveness because, for the candidate to win in electoral votes, there has to be a high and well-distributed support (Sheehan, 2014). The system also gives a voice to the minority and smaller states during the election. Therefore, the concerns, problems, and interest of the minority are listened to because their votes can alter the outcome of the presidential election.
Political Stability and National Representation
The Electoral College promotes the political stability of the United States. The structure of the Electoral College promotes a bi-party system through the Republican versus Democrats, creating a considerable certainty and minimizing voters’ confusion especially when the third party has similar opinions with the major parties. The system of Electoral College promotes an absolute consensus by maintaining the political powers of every state in America, giving them equal representation in both the Senate and the House of Representatives (Sheahan, 2014). Therefore, the Electoral College is considered important because it disperses the popular support, gives a voice to the minority, promotes political stability, and upholds the national representation system.
Disadvantages of the Electoral College
The Electoral College is encountered by various criticism because of its several shortcomings. According to George Edwards, "The Electoral College does not provide a straightforward process for selecting the President. Instead, it can be extraordinarily complex and has the potential to undo the people's will at many points in the long journey from the selection of electors to counting their votes in Congress" (Edwards, 2011). If the majority win of 270 out of 538 votes is not achieved in the electoral results, the Electoral College creates a possibility of electing the minority president through the legislative branch. Since the electors are “pledged and expected, but not required, to vote for the candidates they represent,” the Electoral College increases the risk of negative impacts of unfaithful electors (U.S Const. Art. 2). Therefore, the system creates a possibility of electors going against the will of their individual voters by voting for the candidate whom the represented did not acknowledge.
Low Voter Turnout and Potential Misrepresentation
The Electoral College discourages the turnout of voters at some great level. When the voters acknowledge their candidate would not win in the Electoral College, they may choose not to participate in the voting process because their votes would not alter the presidential outcome (Sheehan, 2014). The system may also result in inappropriate reflection of peoples will. Since the minority has a voice in altering the presidential results, the Electoral College creates a possibility of the president winning through the support of the minority only, inappropriately reflecting the peoples’ will. Therefore, the Electoral College is encountered by several challenges including the possibility of electing a minority president, the risk of unfaithful electors, voters’ turnout depression, and the possibility of inappropriate reflection of peoples will.
In conclusion, the Electoral College is a significant body chosen to represent the United States in the presidential elections. It was formed by the Founding Fathers to solve the issue of population dispersion by equalizing the states’ voting powers on basis of population size. The Electoral College has been highly ridiculed and debated to assess whether it should be replaced with the Popularity’s Vote System. The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Electoral College confirm that even though it is imperfect in various ways, the system holds beneficial force in the United States’ presidential election. However, for the effectiveness of its duty in the future, the system will need some alterations to solve the existing problems.
Edwards, G. (2011). Why the Electoral College is bad for America. New Haven: Yale Univ.
LeVert, S. (2012). The Electoral College. New York: Franklin Watts.
Sheahan, V. (2014). Advantages and Disadvantages of the U.S. Electoral College. Electoral Studies, 49, 38-48. doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2017.07.003
U.S. Govt. Print. Off. (1976).The Constitution of the United States of America. Washington.