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  • Kinan Nelson

America’s Broken Electoral College


The United States of America has been around for 247 years, and the Electoral College for 219 of those years. The Electoral College was created as a compromise between the north and the south. The north wanted the popular vote because they had more eligible voters, and the south wanted congress to vote for the president since they wanted delegates representing each state to vote. They could not agree on one solution, thus the ‘three fifths compromise’ was created. This consisted of three-fifths of slaves being counted to decide the number of electors per state for the electoral college. As part of that, there was also the popular vote, but it was very different back then with only white property owners who were able to vote. The Electoral College is part of the 12 amendment, which was ratified on June 15, 1804.  People who agree with the Electoral College say the following: the electoral college protects the voices of the minority from being overwhelmed by the will of the majority and helps with runoff elections. These are valid points but there are solutions to these concerns besides the electoral college.  Back then and also today the Electoral College has more power than the popular vote. A compromise made by the founders of this country almost 220 years ago should not be the reason it still exists today. The US has changed a lot since its beginnings and should reflect that change by getting rid of the electoral college. A close examination of the electoral college suggests that it is not needed any more. First of all, education has come a long way since 1804, more than sufficient to make the popular vote the final decision for the presidency. Secondly, voting for the president should be done by absolute direct democracy. Finally, presidential elections should not rely so much on swing states. The Electoral College has a negative impact on voting in the United States, so it should be abolished. 

The first reason why the Electoral College should be abolished is because US citizens are more than adequately educated to make the final decision for who will be president. In the early 19th century only white privileged people got educated since all schools had to be paid in tuition. According to ‘Free Schools in America’, it wasn’t until the “period between 1850 and 1870, most American states achieved the free school system supported by property taxes rather than tuition” (Heukseok-dong). In 1870 the only people who were allowed to vote were white and african american men. It wasn’t until 1971 that the US had mostly the amount of voting laws that exist today. Voting laws haven't kept up with education in the US. It took nearly 100 years from universal public schools to everyone being able to vote. Even if there was segregation in the education system, minority groups still were able to have schools by law. The same can not be said with the history of voting laws, certain groups of people were not able to participate in their government at all. According to the 2020 US Census, “89.1% of Americans aged 25 and up have a high school diploma and 34.3% of those people have a bachelor’s degree or higher” (Census). Literacy rate is the highest it has ever been, which was one of the primary issues with the popular vote being the final decision for president in 1804. This was nearly 220 years ago and the Electoral College still stands. Today, an increase in the quantity of jobs requires higher education as this country moves away from the Age of Information and into the Age of Intelligence. Corresponding to this change,  new professions will be created and some that exist today that will be eliminated because of Artificial Intelligence. As the earth continues to spin this new threat of AI will force people to acquire higher skill jobs that stay ahead of AI. This new age also creates more intelligence in America, making it highly practical to get rid of the Electoral College.    

The second reason why the Electoral College should be abolished is because democracy should function on one vote per adult. Letting a person's vote get added up to the national polls that then would elect the president would incentivize people to vote. This is because the state they live in would not have a direct impact on if their vote mattered or not. In the United States current government, “just 538 people decide who will be president; that’s about 0.000156% of the population deciding the president” (ProCon). The US should be advertised as progressive in terms of voting which is not the case with the Electoral College. The electoral college disrupts what the 340 million Americans want to represent them as a leader. In 5 different elections, “the candidate who placed second in the popular vote was elected in 2016, 2000, 1888 1876 and 1824” (CBS News). This shows that electors that are supposed to represent all Americans as a whole do not always uphold their promise. This is why the electoral college should be eliminated.  

The third and final reason why the electoral college should be abolished is because elections based on the electoral college system rely too heavily on swing states. This is all because of how the electoral college is set up. Certain states have mostly democratic electors, others mostly republican and a small number are swing states that could go either way. In the 2016 election, “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have made more than 90% of their campaign stops in just 11 so-called battleground states. Of those visits, nearly two-thirds took place in the four battlegrounds with the most electoral votes — Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina” (PBS). This strategy is because presidential candidates are too focused on electoral votes since that is how the system works. This system gives more power to the electoral college than the popular vote. The candidates just need 270 electoral votes to win the election. In recent elections, “a shift of a relative handful of votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in six of the last 12 presidential elections” (CBS News). That is half of the elections in the last 48 years being close calls for the electoral college. No wonder that candidates focus so much time on swing states. If the electoral college is removed from the current 27 US government amendments, swing states will no longer dictate so much of the time and effort spent on presidential campaigns. Elections would be less predictable in all states in general since it is harder to predict 340 million people than 538 electors. This would force candidates to visit more states, in turn better understand national problems. 

By closely examining the negatives and positives of the Electoral College and its history reveals that it should be abolished. First of all, education has come a long way since 1804, more than sufficient to make the popular vote the final decision for the presidency. Secondly, voting for the president should be done by absolute direct democracy. Finally, presidential elections should not rely so much on swing states. The electoral college is a force that diminishes some of US citizens' rights. Getting rid of the electoral college would not only improve democracy here in America, but might perhaps influence other countries too. Creating a more free world. 



Works Cited


Carr, Julie. “This system calls for popular vote to determine winner.” PBS, 6 November 2016, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/system-calls-popular-vote-determine- winner. Accessed 24 March 2024.


“Electoral College Pros and Cons - Top 3 Arguments For and Against.” ProCon.org, 9 December 2021, https://www.procon.org/headlines/electoral-college-pros-cons- procon-org/. Accessed 24 March 2024.


“Free Schools in America, 1850-1870: Who Voted for Them, Who Got Them, and Who Paid.” Guanghua School of Management, https://en.gsm.pku.edu.cn/__local/5/FB/21/C9804B8B9D02C015F11B143237C_BB421303_1470B0.pdf?e=.pdf. Accessed 24 March 2024.


Kennedy, Lesley. Voting Rights Milestones in America: A Timeline | HISTORY, 19 April 2021, https://www.history.com/news/voting-rights-timeline. Accessed 24 March 2024.


Kiley, Jocelyn. “Eliminating Electoral College favored by majority of Americans.” Pew Research Center, 25 September 2023, https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/09/25/majority-of-americans-continue-to-favor-moving-away-from-electoral-college/. Accessed 24 March 2024.


Kiley, Jocelyn. “Eliminating Electoral College favored by majority of Americans.” Pew Research Center, 25 September 2023, https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/09/25/majority-of-americans-continue-to-favor-moving-away-from-electoral-college/. Accessed 24 March 2024.


“National popular vote - frequently asked questions.” Common Cause, https://www.commoncause.org/our-work/voting-and-elections/national-popular-vote/national-popular-vote-faq/. Accessed 24 March 2024.


Roos, Dave. Why Was the Electoral College Created? | HISTORY, 15 July 2019, https://www.history.com/news/electoral-college-founding-fathers-constitutional-convention. Accessed 24 March 2024.


“United States.” U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: United States, 2020, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/BZA010221. Accessed 24 March 2024.









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