What is the Purpose of the Electoral College? Is the Electoral College Fair? Is the Current Voting System Fair?
The Electoral College is meant to protect minority voting interests against the tyranny of the majority, and to prevent special interests not in the public interest. However, while its purpose is virtuous and fair on paper, in practice, state-based rules and customs have largely undone its purpose. State-based rules and customs can be shown to be unfair in practice… using the same exact logic that is used to justify the framer’s creating a Republic with an electoral college in the first place.
- In our current winner-take-all system 48 states and D.C. award all their electoral votes to the party that won the state’s popular vote… even if that state wins by only 1 vote. The majority of each state matters 100%, the minority not at all… it isn’t that their vote doesn’t count, it does in many ways… it is simply that it doesn’t win the election (much like the national popular vote doesn’t win the election).
- Now consider red-district / blue-district and gerrymandering. Here we often get maps drawn to ensure majority interests. Minorities aren’t protected. Just look at “the black belt“.
- Now consider strict voter ID which favors those in demographics who are more likely to have IDs and excludes those who aren’t. Minorities aren’t protected.
Much like the three-fifths compromise, what is meant to protect the minority has become over time a special interest of sorts over time. And thus, where the College satisfies the Federalist #10 and #68 written by Madison and Hamilton respectively, the system in practice arguably doesn’t.
To those who support the system with glowing pride after Trump’s win, consider, neither 2016 Presidential Candidate broke 50% of the vote. There was no minority or majority win, just a divisive duopoly driven by special interests. In words, neither majorities nor special interests were really prevented against in 2016, nor was this the case in 2000.
How the Electoral College Works.
IN WORDS: Should small states have more power? Yes! 100%. But, should those states be forced to vote with the state majority?! No! Of course not, especially in a close race the winner-take-all can be shown to be an arguably corrupt custom that breaks the same rule-of-reason-and-fairness that the national popular would. I mean, how do people not see this obvious double standard? That said, a perfect fix is hard. The current system simply says “if things are close, Republicans win”…. that isn’t fair, but it has resulted in about 50% of Presidents being Democrats and 50% being Republicans, which is “fair in some ways”. Likewise, it wouldn’t be fair to let populous states decide the President while disenfranchising rural voters… which is why the current system isn’t fair, it disenfranchise minority voters in regions and states.
The Popular Vote vs. the Electoral College. The right-wing likes to advocate for our Republican system. And rightly so. At its core it offers vital protections. However, they rarely ever tell the full story of strict voter ID, gerrymandering, and the fact that the winner-take-all custom favors Red states, sometimes even unfairly (as it treats their state majorities in the exact same way they don’t want the national majority treated). Ok, great states’ rights… but you do get how this is a double standard, right?
What Should Change With Voting in the United States?
It is easy to see that the College is fair and smart on paper, and the founder’s documents make it clear the intention was to prevent majority rule and special interests. However, with state-based winner-take-all custom considered, is not the system the founders intended and arguably not “fair“.
The founders didn’t even intended the people to vote on the President or Senators, hence the electors. So acting like the founders invented winner-take-all is a little disingenuous.
Rather, the current system is favoring Republicans in elections where neither party can pull of a landslide. With that said, favoring majorities isn’t necessarily a better solution. Going by the national popular vote would simply flip the injustice from red-team to blue-team (my preferences aside, nothing about that is more fair).
FACT: 1824 was the first election in which the majority of states used a statewide winner-take-all voting method for choosing their presidential electors. The fact that this was one of the most famously awful elections in history and the election that divided our country should be noted. Soon after the country went to civil war and red-team blue-team politics has been divisive ever since. Prior to that the country had been in “an Era of Good Feelings” in a nearly unified one-party system.
FACT: Only the youngest founders were still around when the system was put in practice, consider, Jefferson died in 1826. The second generation of Americans like Clay, Calhoun, Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, etc put the winner-take-all system in place. And even today, many “northern” states still reject the state-based custom. The custom is on weaker footing than people pretend.
Adam Ruins Everything – Why the Electoral College Ruins Democracy. The right-wing likes to advocate for our Republican system. And rightly so. At its core it offers vital protections. However, they rarely ever tell the full story of strict voter ID, gerrymandering, and the fact that the winner-take-all custom favors Red states sometimes even unfairly (as it treats their state majorities in the exact same way they don’t want the national majority treated). Ok, great states’ rights… but you do get how this is a double standard, right?
How Do We Make Voting More Fair?
Fair voting solutions include things like improving primaries, addressing strict voter ID and gerrymandering, run-off voting, and no confidence voting. Another idea is that electors could vote proportional to the state popular in instances where a clear majority isn’t won… but again, we have to deal with the will of majorities and minorities instead of what is best for the nation.
There is a lot of wiggle room to make elections more fair, but that requires getting both parties on board (and that has historically shown to be problematic). The problem is, no one wants to change a system that is working for them. We don’t need reactionary solutions that focus on the popular vote, we need more safeguards to ensure those elected represent the general will of the people and not just the will of a specific minority or majority.
Winner Take All vs Proportional Primaries – STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW.
MPR News: Instant Runoff Voting Explained. People should be able to vote for more than one candidate to express their order of preference.
Labour’s No Confidence Vote In Jeremy Corbyn (using U.K. voting system for an example). People should be able to vote “no confidence”. More than half of voting eligible Americas didn’t vote in the past 2016 election.