Making a vote count: Changing the Electoral College system

Alan Duff

The 2000 presidential election between the primary candidates Al Gore and George Bush resulted in one of the closest presidential races in the history of the United States 11 years ago. In the end, it was thanks to the Electoral College and the winner-take-all process that George Bush was able to secure the necessary electoral votes to become the next president of the United States.

George Bush defeated his opponent Al Gore — who had won the popular vote. For supposedly being a nation that is proud of democracy, it’s time we reassess the outdated role the Electoral College plays in the United States presidential elections.

The Electoral College system varies from state to state, but the citizens of each state choose a group of representatives to represent them and cast an electoral vote. Though the representatives that cast their electoral vote can vote for any candidate, they traditionally do so according to the trends of the popular vote.

Each state is given a certain amount of electoral votes based on population that is then used as the total number that presidential candidates can receive in votes in a state. Unless you live in Maine or Nebraska, which do not have winner-take-all policies, the popular vote could be won by candidate A, and yet if the electoral college gave 51 percent of their votes to candidate B, then candidate B would take all of the electoral votes from that state.

What this means is that if you live in a state in which the majority supports one candidate and you like the other, your vote won’t have an impact at the state or national level. I don’t agree with this, and I think this is a problem that can and should be resolved.

Luckily, I don’t have to be particularly clever to solve this problem, but can instead look toward our constitution for the solution. The indirect election of our senators was an issue 100 years ago that many disagreed with. This resulted in the 17th Amendment in 1913, which called for the direct election of United States senators by the people.

This type of amendment could also be applied to the presidential elections. If such a law were implemented, these problems of indirect elections could be avoided. The president election — the most important election — would be controlled by the popular vote only, never again by the Electoral College. Everyone’s vote would count and a truer democracy would exist.

Another solution is to disband the winner-take-all system that exists in the 48 states. Though the Constitution allows each state to choose how to have their electoral votes organized and counted on a national level, I believe that where you live should not impact the weight of your vote.

Citizens of Maine and Nebraska — where the Electoral College is not a winner-take-all system — shouldn’t be the only ones to have their votes count fully. After all, we are more united as a nation now than we have been in the past. Historically, each state reaching its own decision and maintaining state level independence was important to the presidential election, but it is an archaic system which only removes power from the vote of the common citizen.