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Should The Electoral College Be Abolished?

1009 words - 5 pages

The Electoral College (EC) was established in Article II of the Constitution and amended by the 12th Amendment in 1804. Each state gets a number of electors equal to its number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives plus one for each of its two U.S. Senators creating a total of 538 electoral votes. A majority winner must receive 270 votes to be elected. With a few minor exceptions, the Electoral College gives all of the electoral votes for each state to the plurality winner in that state, regardless of the margin of victory. This "winner takes all" arrangement at the state level can elect a President who loses the popular vote, as was the case in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000.

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For example, in 2012, the 6 least populous states together had the same number of EC votes (18) as Ohio. But Ohio’s population in 2012 was more than 3 times the combined population of the 6 smallest states. This meant that a vote cast in Ohio effectively carried less than 1/3 of the weight of a vote in one of the 6 smallest states. This is unfair, unrepresentative and undemocratic.

The EC also gives undue predominance to a small number of states. This is because some states can be relied upon to always vote for the same party. For example, Alaska invariably votes Republican, and Minnesota Democrats. This means that the outcome of the presidential election is decided in a small number of swing states. In the run up to the 2012 election, the Obama and Romney campaigns spent almost $100million on TV advertisement in Ohio (a crucial swing state) and none in California (who have voted Democratic since 1988).

Lastly, it is an unnecessary anachronism. The US constitution was written more than 200 years ago at a time when the country only consisted of 13 states, and when the Founding Fathers were reluctant to place too much power in the hands of the people. However, the country has changed significantly since then. For example, the 17th amendment allowed for each state’s senators to be directly elected by its voters. Changes such as these affirm the importance of the people being able to vote directly for their representatives in the federal government.

On the other hand, a reason supporting the EC is that the popular vote almost always prevails. In the past 125 years, 2000 is the only example where the EC vote prevailed. The current system will always deliver an EC win for a candidate who wins the national popular vote substantially. In elections where there is very little between the candidates in terms of the popular vote, the EC ensures that the candidate with the broadest support across the...

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