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One of the most well known political systems created in the United States of America is the Electoral College system. It has persisted for more than 200 years and is an essential part of choosing the president of the United States of America. Citizens eligible to vote for the next President and Vice President of the United States do not vote directly for the candidates. They cast ballots in order to choose the members of the U.S Electoral College, which directly vote for the next President and Vice President. The system has long been described as a highly flawed one, as it complicates the process of election, makes a viable third party impossible and is generally considered as unnecessarily complicated and obsolete. The system should be abolished for all the reasons mentioned above and because it is an unfair system at best. The reasons for this will be discussed further in the paper and arguments will be made for why the system should be abolished.
The creation of the Electoral College has its roots in the Constitutional Convention. The Founding Fathers established the system as a compromise between those who wanted the Congress to pick the President and those who believed that the President should be chosen by a national popular vote. Several ideas were debated during the time, such as the Congress selecting the president, the president being chosen through a popular vote, State legislature picking the president and some others. In the end, they settled on the option which seemed the best compromise at the time. There were two proposed designs of the Electoral College system, but only one could integrate with the political parties and national campaigns. The system functions on the basis of “winner takes it all,” as the candidate with the most votes gets all the votes of the voting state.
There are two expectations to the rule of “winner takes it all,” and those are Maine and Nebraska, which follow the proportional representation system. These two states give two electoral votes to the candidate who won the popular vote and one apiece to the winner in every congressional district. Maine changed to this system in 1969 and Nebraska in 1991.
Voting rights in the District of Columbia are not the same as those in other US states, as it is considered to be a special federal district. The district does have a delegate, but he can vote only on some issues and is not supposed to vote on the House floor. On the other hand, the Twenty-Third Amendment to the United States Constitution gives the district the right to the equal number of electoral votes. This has long been a problem, and there have been a number of proposed solutions, but none of them came to practice in the end. A pattern of clinging to old, “proven” methods persists in America and even apparent problems such as that of DC are sometimes hard to fix.
There are certainly positive aspects to the current “winner takes it all” system. One of those advantages is that the current system does contribute to a form of political stability. This political stability, in turn, leads to stronger markets and more sustainable economic growth. Getting votes can be accomplished by standing for certain policies that benefit a particular state and thus convincing the majority of that state to vote for that candidate. The biggest benefit of the Electoral College system is that the candidates need to appeal to a broad range of voter demographics and, in doing so, they promote centrism and discourage the candidate from promoting views that could be considered extremist. The candidate needs to be a candidate for the whole of the United States, not just for “enough” states for him to win the election.
The flaws outnumber the benefits significantly, though. The electoral college diminishes the chances of a healthy, viable third party, as they are more often than not absorbed by the two dominant parties, the Democratic and the Republican. In a two-party system, cooperation between the parties is in direct confrontation with the party’s ultimate goals: that is, to come to power and push for their agenda. During the time when the system was created, there was no established government, and it was impossible to spot the flaws of the system and find solutions for those flaws. These flaws are apparent now, and the solution for all of them is quite apparent. Change the system.
The technical flaws of the Electoral college system were never more evident than during the 2000’s election. Albert Gore, Jr. and George W. Bush were the democratic and republican nominees respectively. For a candidate to be proclaimed as the winner, he or she must have 270 Electoral votes. In the end, Gore had 266 Electoral votes and 50,992,335 popular votes; Bush had 271 Electoral votes and 50,455,156 popular votes. This count gave the presidency to Bush but only after the Supreme Court halted the Florida recount which was going on during that time. The Court justified its decision by stating that the Equal Protection Clause had been violated as a different counting standard was being implemented. Al Gore ended up conceding the election to Bush but the problems with the system were made much more prominent during this time, and the debate regarding the whole system was ignited once again.
The question being posed is: “Why is the Electoral College system still in place?” The system is clearly obsolete, mocks the principles of freedom and undermines the power of each vote. With all this in mind, it is hard to rationalize the reasons for it still being in place even though there is a number of them. One of the reasons is that the system still has quite a large following among the people. According to the estimates, more than a third of Americans still support the system. Some of them support it for the reasons which were listed here as cons of the system. They wish for the two-party system to remain and do not want to see a strong third party emerge. Some feel that the system contributes to the cohesiveness of the country and that it highlights problematic issues, including illegal immigration and voter fraud. Arguments are made for the system as a means of keeping the elections relevant and contributing to high voting rates.
Even the most prominent supporters of the system agree that it will have to be replaced in the future as the new generations have no use for such a relic of the past. The transition to a popular vote system was not made, as it would have affected the South negatively and made them into a type of minority. The 3/5 clause and the South argument are no longer viable in this time and age, and the popular vote is the only system that will empower the people and is in direct correlation with the principles of democracy.
The Electoral College system has been in place for a long time and has evolved to be a part of the American society as well as an American tradition. Elections in America occur every four years, and this is the time for people to have their voice heard. A lot of people look forward to the elections as they see it as a celebration of their freedom and their constitutionally guaranteed rights. This is a time for political reconciliation and time for the pluralism and individualism rooted in the American way of life to shine. Every American eligible to vote can do so for an elector, who will in turn pledge that vote for a political party. A majority of the 538 electors (270) are needed for a candidate to be elected as the President. The whole voting process is highly publicized and is marred by public debates and conventions. All of this contributes to the notion that if the system were to be changed, everything that accompanies it would also be changed. As this is clearly not the case, this argument falls short.
To conclude, the matter of viability of the current Electoral College system comes up once again. The obvious answer is that the system is outdated, not viable and it must be changed. During its creation, the system was viable, but as the time went by, things have changed. In today’s political climate, the system has no definite place. Thus, it must be abolished and replaced with one that will empower the people and give significance to each vote no matter where the voter may live.