Smaller Government: Electoral College
Exploring the election process
This subject has become another controversy since the end of the 2016 election cycle, at least from what I remember—but the electoral college itself has been a debate since the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. During the 2020 election, conversations about voter ID were on the mainstream headlines; but the temperature meter rose, including the role the federal government has in ensuring a secured free election. This publication has certainly touched on the election criminal voter fraud that took place after the 2020 election cycle, and the establishment’s response since. However, admittedly, I have not actually gotten into specifics about the flaws that allowed the fraud to occur, nor have I proposed solutions. This is the next piece to the puzzle in creating the blueprint for a smaller government.
Why it exists and how it works
The nuances of what happens during elections cannot be discussed until Americans understand why the electoral college exists. This is still being debated 234 years after its ratification, because there have been five times in American history when a candidate won the election despite losing the popular vote. It’s been reinvigorated since the 2016 election and as of 2022, over 60% of Americans are in favor of abolishing the electoral college altogether. This is still lower than a poll taken in 1968, when 81% of Americans favored foregoing the electoral college. Congress has proposed over 700 bills to abolish the electoral college since its inception, but why the pushback? Why does the electoral college exist?
The electoral college was another compromise the Framers agreed upon. There were Framers who wanted a popular vote, but concern arose from the idea that states with larger populations would have too much of an advantage over smaller states. Then there was the lack of education that would give some states a disadvantage; and lastly, southern states were worried about the northern states having an amplified voice, because of the scenario of slaves not being able to vote (some were, but due to the compromise, they only counted as ⅗ of a vote). Thus, the electoral college was born as a compromise.
With this system, people in the states have a direct vote on their preferred presidential candidate. Then they have electors, appointed by the state, who vote on behalf of the people in the state based on their *popular* vote. The amount of electors that represent each state are based off of its population: the total number of the state’s Representatives in the U.S House, plus two from the Senate. Florida has 28 Representatives, thus add another two for the Senate, and Florida gets 30 electors. Whoever has the most votes from the electors wins the presidency. It’s an indirect method of voting for a president. The popular vote still matters within the state; but to protect states with smaller population sizes, it only accounts for a certain amount of points, per se, towards the final results. Hence, there can and have been situations where a candidate wins the election, but lost the popular vote in the totality of the 50 states (as mentioned, five times).
The main criticism is that the electoral college has created a system where the candidates only focus on swing states. Admittedly, this is factual in modern politics. It’s very unlikely that someone would see a democrat campaigning in Kentucky—no more than a republican would travel to California. Then there’s the argument of people having access to resources that the population didn’t have before, which was one of the caveats as to why the Framers didn’t want a national popular vote; this is also true. Lastly, the electoral college takes away the voice of the majority that comes from the national popular vote; however, that has only happened five times. And while candidates have mainly focused on swing states, the argument can be made that this is a reflection of the weakness of the party platforms, candidates, and the two-party system. The electoral college actually protects states with smaller populations like it’s designed to. The 2016 election cycle was a prime example of the beauty of the electoral college: Donald Trump geographically dominated the votes, even winning 83% of the counties (2600 for Trump compared to only 500 for Clinton). 30 states went to Trump, versus 20 for Clinton. In a way, Trump did win the majority, something advocates for the popular vote overlook. The bulk of the votes for Clinton came from big cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City—which could be states on their own, but aren’t. Would this balance out with the 83% if the electoral college got abolished? No.
That raises a question as to how much power these big cities should have within their own states. This is my main criticism against the current electoral college: it still gives too much power to those mega cities, to say the least, because it suppresses towns’ or smaller cities’ voices due to the large populations. California, New York, and Illinois are states where those cities mentioned decide the elections. This has discouraged voters in those states to participate, because the sentiment is that their voices will be drowned out by those living in larger precincts. Thus, the proposal that’s about to be laid out will actually address the concerns about how candidates only have to focus on swing states. This will force candidates and parties to appeal to every county in every state and have better platforms for campaigns, because at that point every state would truly be a swing state.
Every precinct will be granted points based on the popular vote. The amount of points will be based on the population size within each precinct.
The points from the precinct will count towards the electors from the state. The candidate with the most points within the state shall be awarded the electors from the state.
States shall have the right to legislate a formula to establish the point system based on population in the precinct, but points must equal 99.
States shall reserve the right to determine their own election process for local and state elections. These amendments only concern the federal process. Anything not covered in these amendments will be subject to Article 10.
This idea is more radical in the eyes of those who want a direct democracy. To those who want a republic or a representative democracy, this may be thought-provoking, but it’s in alignment with shirking the size of government, in that it emboldens the “little guy” in the smaller precincts to participate in the election process. Their votes carry a heavier weight than before, because they won’t be drowned out as easily as when the electors were awarded based on the popular vote in the state itself. The idea of the popular vote is appealing; however, when taking into account how it gives the major cities all the power and significantly risks the chance of a one-party rule, the electoral college as it stands today is a superior option. That said, this is just addressing the federal level. What’s the controversy at the state level recently?
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