A Political Preference: Abolish the Electoral College

Ty Lopez

What if I were to tell you that your vote doesn’t really matter? Or at least, it doesn’t necessarily elect the president? When you go to vote, you are actually voting for representatives in the Electoral College from your state. These elected representatives then go on to vote for the president. 

In 2012, new President-Elect Donald Trump brought up an interesting point — one that I agree with. He tweeted: “The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.” Here’s something to consider: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote 59,814,018 to Trump’s 59,611,678. That same rigged system he constantly chastises won him this election.  And this isn’t a singular instance it’s actually the fifth time a candidate has lost the popular vote but won the election. 

The Electoral College is a system that depends on a lot of things outside of a voter’s control. Population of a particular state, how a state votes (whether it’s a ‘safe’ or ‘swing’ state), and its winner-take-all system leave much to be desired. In fact, the distribution of Electoral College votes is not equally dispersed. The watch dog group, fair.org, provides a perfect example: “For instance, each individual vote in Wyoming counts nearly four times as much in the Electoral College as each individual vote in Texas. This is because Wyoming has three (3) electoral votes for a population of 532,668 citizens (as of 2008 Census Bureau estimates) and Texas has thirty-two (32) electoral votes for a population of almost 25 million. By dividing the population by electoral votes, we can see that Wyoming has one “elector” for every 177,556 people and Texas has one “elector” for about every 715,499.” The value of a vote depends on where you live — individual votes aren’t worth 175,000 or 700,000, they’re worth 1. Another example of the Electoral College’s shortcomings has occurred here in California. Freelance reporter Madison Mills says: “In 2012, over 4 million Californians voted for Mitt Romney. But it’s a winner-take-all system. So President Obama took all the electoral votes in that state.” That’s 55 Electoral College votes given to one candidate who did not represent 4 million Americans who voted Republican. Because California is a blue state, many conservatives feel as if their vote does not matter. Conversely, those living in predominately red states and are more liberal in their values feel as though their opinions have no power. 

I suggest we move away from the Electoral College and give the power back to the American citizen — the choice of who becomes president should not be up to some special group, but to each and every single person. The power of an individual’s vote should not be determined by which state they live in, but by the strength of the vote itself. One vote equals one vote for one particular person. In order to introduce more than the two parties into the political system, I suggest we move to a national preferential voting system. 

In a preferential voting system, it’s as simple as it sounds. You pick who you would like to be president in the order you think is best. A 50 percent majority is necessary to elect a winner; otherwise the candidate with the lowest amount of votes is scratched from the discussion and the cycle restarts. For example, if you supported the Green Party candidate Jill Stein and thought her best for president, you would place her as your number 1 vote. If you could stomach Clinton, you’d put her as 2, Gary Johnson as 3, and Trump as your least preferred choice. If the initial ballot results have Stein winning the national popular vote by 50 percent, that’s how the election ends. If there is not 50 percent majority, officials will review everyone’s first choices and throw out the last-place candidate. Any voter whose top-choice gets thrown out will still matter. Let’s say that Stein got last place. Your vote still counts because now your vote would be for Clinton, your second choice. The process of removing the least-successful candidate from the ballot and recounting continues until there is a 50 percent majority. Ta-da! America has successfully elected a candidate selected by the majority of the people. Democracy has performed its function.

This eliminates the stigma of voting for third party candidates because they simply won’t win, removing the idea that voting against the two party system is just a ‘protest vote.’ People can vote based off of their morals for the candidate best suited for their interests and know that no matter what, they will have a say in the matter. It’s more efficient than a winner-take-all system and brings the power back to the voter. 

Critics might argue that such a change would be too complicated. I respond by asking: every four years, how often do people Google search for ‘what is the Electoral College?’ A simplification of the system can be made by moving to a national preferential voting system. People do not need special electors to decide for them what is best.