Shon Loftus: Electoral College has done enough damage in US


LENOX >> The Electoral College has chosen our president since the establishment of that office in 1789. In most presidential elections, the vote of the College reflected the vote of the people, leaving little room to complain. But there were those rare cases when it went against the people's will, choosing the candidate with fewer popular votes.

In 1876, Republican Rutherford Hayes came in second to Democrat Samuel Tilden in the popular vote, yet was chosen by the electoral vote. In 2000, Republican George W. Bush was elected even though he received fewer popular votes than Democrat Al Gore.

The Electoral College is a horrible way of choosing the leader of the free world. After doing extensive research from a number of sources for a research paper on the topic, I found many reasons why the Electoral College is bad. Three of the most critical reasons are: 11 voters from key states could decide the entire election; the president could be elected with a plurality of votes; and voters are not equal.

The College has 538 electors, so one candidate needs 270 votes to win. The 11 most populous states combined have a total of 270 electoral votes. Each state's electors vote even if only one person in that state goes to vote. So if one person in California went to vote, all of the state's 55 electors would vote for the candidate who won that one vote. Therefore, if only one person in each of the 11 most populous states went to vote on election day, and all 11 people voted for the same candidate, that candidate would receive 270 electoral votes. Even if millions of people in all the other states voted for the other candidate, the one who received those 11 votes would win.

A state's electors all vote for the candidate that got the most votes in that state, not the majority of votes. For example, if there were three candidates and candidate A won 40 percent of the vote, candidate B won 35 percent, and candidate C won 25 percent, all of the state's electors would vote for candidate A, even though s/he didn't win the majority of the state. That candidate would win all of that state's electors even though 60 percent of the people voted against him/her. If this happened in every state, candidate A would become president by winning only a plurality of the vote, as opposed to a majority.

When I say voters aren't equal, I mean voter turnout varies by state. Hypothetically, if 100 people in one state went to vote, and 10 people in another state went to vote, one voter in the latter state would have more influence over who his/her state's electoral votes went to than a person voting in the state with 100 voters. Voter equality doesn't exist with an Electoral College. Under this system, one person does not equal one vote.

These examples show that our electoral system does not encourage democracy. It instead suppresses democracy. One could argue that the US is a quasi-democracy like China and Russia. This system has cheated us before by ignoring the people's will in 1876 and 2000 when the candidate with fewer votes was elected.

We need to change to a direct vote by the people. The mere fact that the popular vote can be ignored should be reason enough to ban the Electoral College.

Shon Loftus is a junior at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School.


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