The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
In the short history of the United States, we have had four elections where the candidate who won the popular vote did not win the presidency. One of those elections happened just two weeks ago (and the third only 16 years ago with Al Gore and George W. Bush). It has been two weeks since the shock of the 2016 election, where Donald Trump won the majority of the electoral vote. Much of the electorate was shocked due to their hope that Hillary Clinton would win. Days after the election, many people (mostly in liberal states) protested Trump’s victory. The protest went on for many days, however now that it has been two weeks since the election, people are still not happy with the election outcome and are fighting for a change.
Some of the electorate is trying to persuade their electors to be “faithless”, meaning that they won’t cast their electoral vote for Trump, even if a majority of the state voted for him. A petition has been made on Change.org to encourage faithless electors to vacate their support for Trump, claiming that president–elect Donald Trump is a “danger to the Republic”. As of right now, 4.6 million people have signed the petition. From inside the political world, California Senator Barbara Boxer proposed a bill to abolish the Electoral College in response to Clinton’s loss. She stated,
“In my lifetime, I have seen two elections where the winner of the general election did not win the popular vote…The Electoral College is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately. Every American should be guaranteed that their vote counts.”
Even though this bill is a long shot to actually becoming reality since the Republican Party holds the House and Senate, it demonstrates that the Electoral College is under real scrutiny since the election.
Many don’t see Donald Trump as their president simply because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. However, the Electoral College was made by the Framers to prevent the public to vote for their home state heroes and to have a fair election, but now, the College no longer deals with that issue. Now, the Electoral College is there to keep the election fair but now gives smaller states a chance to make an impact in the election. In the article, Electoral College Watch by Gary L. Gregg, the author explains why the College was made and what is the new purpose of the College. Gregg argues that keeping the College is crucial to our democracy. After the election, many are enraged with the Electoral College because the electorate does not see the College as a proper representation of the electorate.
However, since the Electoral College gives greater weight to smaller states, it forces candidates to campaign in those states. If we think of a system without the Electoral College, candidates would just campaign in big urban cities that are already predominately liberal. The Republican Party would also struggle to win votes if the electoral process was just dependent on the popular vote. Abolishing the College, as Gregg said in his article, would “dismantle the firewalls protecting us all from a quadrennial national nightmare that would turn over our elections to lawyers and judges.” Abolishing the Electoral College would also put full dependency on the electorate, and as stated in lecture, most of the population isn’t politically knowledgeable because they don’t have time for politics. Essentially, chaos would break out.
Gracie Salazar is a fourth- year political science major who plans on pursuing a law degree and eventually work for the district attorney office someday. She enjoys her Sunday mornings being a Sunday school teacher at her local church-teaching children aged 4-6.