The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
A sequence of articles written by Timothy Noah titled America’s Worst College argues for the elimination of the Electoral College. The author brings up valid points about presidential nominees paying more attention to the “swing states” such as Florida instead of heavily populated states like California. Noah further analyzed the claim that small states would have no say without the college and found that many of the small states with only three votes do not get many presidential visits, that in fact the college is not doing much to benefit them. Additionally, the Electoral College has overstated the margin of victory in most elections. However, opponents of the getting rid of the Electoral College claim that this method reduces recount possibilities, as there is a limited number of states to be recounted.
A series of articles was also written to defend the Electoral College by Gary L. Gregg titled The Electoral College is Good for America. In these articles, he further elaborates on these points, arguing for the College. The writer states that if we didn’t have the electoral system the way it is, presidential candidates would ask for recounts across the nation, leading to chaos. He further goes onto express how our system was set up by our Founding Fathers and has been working for centuries. It has never failed us and doesn’t need fixing. The Electoral College serves to exaggerate the margin of victory, helping stabilize and legitimize the government. The author also mentions a very interesting idea that eliminating the College would lead to more polarization within the parties and potentially would leave out rural areas of America that are less densely populated.
A week ago, America voted for president-elect, Donald Trump, into office. However, the popular vote and the electoral vote reflect two different outcomes and people are outraged, and in my opinion, rightly so. The majority of voters wanted Hilary Clinton in office, but because of the electoral design, that fact does not matter. Many things have been established to protect minorities against majority oppression but what happens to democracy when the minorities are allowed to oppress the majorities? How undemocratic can we be?
Many petitions have begun to be circulated online, collecting signatures, calling for the end of the College, with those collected ranging from 500,000 to 4.3 million. There are several people rallying against Trump, and it is being done by protest and by petition. But what will happen when the issues of this election die down? Will the people forget and the College be allowed to stay?
Well, the Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, entered legislation addressing the Electoral College. The bill suggests abolishing the College by amending the Constitution, and if passed by Congress, would go into effect 7 to 8 years after ¾ of the states ratified it. But Tuesday November 8, 2016 also determined that we would have a Republican controlled House and Senate, so the passage of this bill is highly unlikely as the electoral system currently benefits the Republican Party. I do not think that it is right to amend Trump’s victory, but I do think that Electoral College itself should be given more attention to avoid similar situations as this election.
The reasons for establishing the college back in the time of the Founding Father are outdated and simply not reason enough to keep it today. The people that voted for Trump voted for him because they are tired of these career politicians like Hilary Clinton, but that is exactly what the College does, keeps power within the hands of elites. The Electoral College diminishes the power and effect of people’s vote and resigns it to the electors. The fact that faithless electors can virtually decide the outcome, without real sanctions, is unreasonable. The fact that an elector named Robert Satiacum in the state of Washington announced he would be voting for Trump, regardless of what the people of the state wanted is downright scary. Many make the argument that they don’t vote because their vote does not matter and under the Electoral College in the state of California, they have a very real argument. One vote should mean one vote, but under this antiquated system, it doesn’t.
Reyna Mendoza is a fourth-year political science major at Cal Poly Pomona.