The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
Proponents of the Electoral College are more emboldened after the 2016 presidential election which sent shockwaves throughout the country. For over a year, the media has been predicting a Democratic victory, but on the night of the 2016 election, pundits were shocked to report a Republican victory with Donald J. Trump as the United States 45th President.
The Republican candidate won in the Electoral College, but he failed to win the popular vote. This phenomenon confuses many Americans whom assume that their votes count and are equal to other citizens. The now visible gap of over two million votes between Secretary Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead and President-elect Trump’s own popular vote brings to question the new president’s legitimacy. Timothy Noah, in his article titled America’s Worst College, highlights the shortcomings of the Electoral College. He strongly believes that the Electoral College system is an unfair outdated voting system because it fails to give all Americans an equal vote.
While Noah admits that the Electoral College has certain advantages, such as giving smaller states a voice, he also argues that this system leaves candidates to ignore states with large populations. Both candidates in the 2016 presidential race were unpopular, but Donald Trump’s campaign managed to isolate many social groups that reside in larger states. Since Trump’s surprising victory, many protests have taken place throughout the country, most occurring in large states with large populations. California and New York protested heavily, but they often get ignored during presidential campaigns, even though most citizens live in these states. Many protesters are declaring that President-elect Trump is “not their President”. They feel that since Trump failed to win the popular vote, the American people did not elect him. The questioning of Donald Trump’s legitimacy is a danger to American democracy. However, many proponents of the Electoral College sympathize with concerned citizens and believe that they have a right to be upset when the majority of the country did not vote for Donald Trump to be president.
In his 2004 article, America’s Worst College, Noah used the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush to point out the flaws of the Electoral College. Al Gore had the popular lead over the victor George W. Bush but lost the election. After the 2016 election, Timothy Noah published an article in Politico titled “The Trouble With the Electoral College”. In this article, he used the latest election to point out the ridiculousness of the Electoral College. He still feels that the popular vote is a far more fair and democratic way to choose a president.
Noah, along with many other proponents of the Electoral College system are now calling to repeal the Electoral College. However, it is not so simple. The Electoral College is protected by the American constitution and would require smaller states to repeal a system they benefit from. While the Electoral College system is protected by the Constitution, America’s status as a fair democracy is being questioned by many citizens that no longer feel represented. In his latest article Noah points out that the current President-elect himself has criticized the Electoral College in the past in several social media tweets. President-elect Trump has tweeted many comments regarding the Electoral College such as “The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy”. Of course, since winning the Electoral College himself, Trump has backtracked on his previous statement against the current American voting system. However, many proponents agree with Trump’s previous sentiments on the Electoral College. Democrats are especially frustrated with the Electoral College system after losing a second election while winning the popular vote. Several bills, petitions and protests are now being pushed to repeal this outdated traditional American voting system.
Aisha Siddiqui is a third year Political Science student at Cal Poly Pomona. She plans on pursuing a law degree after completing her undergraduate studies.