The outdated electoral college must be revised

Art Boettge, staff writer

During the 2016 presidential election, millions of Americans exercised their right to vote and selected their choice for president. But for many voters, did it really matter? Hillary Clinton received almost two million more votes than Donald Trump, but because of the Electoral College system, Donald Trump became president.

The framers of the Constitution decided against a system in which voters directly elect the president because they did not trust their citizens to make a well-informed decision. The framers believed that the antiquated methods of communication would lead to an ill-informed population, so having an electoral college of decidedly “more informed people” would ensure that a competent president would always be elected.

Additionally, slaveholding states preferred the Electoral College because it inflated their voting power. This is because the number of electors in each state is equal to the sum of its senators and representatives, and enslaved people were counted as three-fifths of a person when determining the number of representatives from a state. This compromise gave southern states more representation in Congress, without allowing slaves to vote. Nowadays, because slavery is illegal, although this never should have been an argument for the Electoral College, this is definitely not a reason to continue the Electoral College.

Picture this: you are a Republican in California, and it is a near certainty that the majority of Californians will vote for the Democratic candidate, so there is really no incentive to vote. Without the Electoral College, every vote would count and candidates would have more motivation to campaign in every state. An example of this: during the 2016 election, non-swing states saw voter turnout at about 59%; in swing states, voter turnout was about 66%. The existence of the electoral college shows why voter turnout is often disappointingly low for so many states: Your state’s outcome will almost certainly be the same whether or not you vote. If the electoral college was not the system we used for selecting a president, and instead the president was elected directly by the people, we would see much larger voter turnout percentages in all states.

A better solution for presidential elections would be a direct election where the candidate with the most votes wins. If we want to truly call ourselves a  representative democracy, we need to amend the constitution and abolish the Electoral College.