The Electoral College debate is a widely addressed topic on both sides of the aisle. The dysfunctional and complex American electoral system often poses the question “Does my vote even count?” to the average American voter.
With roughly half of the population participating in the general election each cycle, it makes you wonder why voting is so low and how, or even if, our individual votes count.
Trip Gabriel of the New York Times reported that last month a federal court ruled members of the electoral college may cast a vote for whichever candidate they choose, regardless of who they originally pledged their allegiance to.
On five different occasions, a U.S. President has won the election without also winning the popular vote. This is due to the majority of states being “safe” states, rather than “swing” states. This means these states historically favor one party over another during election cycles.
At the time of the creation of the electoral system, the electoral college’s creation was made to help smaller states feel as important as the states with larger populations. As our nation has grown, this distribution of Electoral College votes has proven to be problematic, since it changes the value of citizens votes based upon the state they are living in.
According to a Huffington Post article, “each individual vote in Wyoming counts nearly four times as much in the Electoral College as each individual vote in Texas. This is because Wyoming has three (3) electoral votes for a population of 532,668 citizens (as of 2008 Census Bureau estimates) and Texas has thirty-two (32) electoral votes for a population of almost 25 million. By dividing the population by electoral votes, we can see that Wyoming has one “elector” for every 177,556 people and Texas has one “elector” for about every 715,499.”
Although the electoral college was originally meant to serve the people and help evenly distribute votes, it no longer serves that same purpose.
If you’re a voter in a state that usually goes red, your blue vote won’t count for much, and vice versa. This is the reality that many voters face, and it often discourages Americans from wanting to participate in elections. If my state is already going to go blue, why should I even try to make my voice heard? The electoral college, although it serves as a safeguard for the highest office in the U.S., is no longer serving our country’s electorate in its current state.
A recent New York Times article, “Fix the electoral college—or scrap it,” suggests the primary issue with the electoral college is the “winner-take-all rule,” which is currently used by nearly every state. This rule means all electors, the number of votes given to each state, are granted to the winner of the statewide popular vote. This rule forces presidential campaigns to focus on the swing states, and “creates presidents out of popular-vote losers, such as George W. Bush and Donald Trump.”
Although there have been more than 700 proposals for amendments to the Electoral College, it remains unchanged. Our Democracy is suffering as a result, and what began as a safeguard to protect the office of the presidency from the “masses” is becoming a threat to the democratic system that our country was founded on.
The votes of the people still matter—but they are unfair and unequal. Our voices as an electorate should never be diluted.