The Electoral College
Perhaps, the most controversial part of the entire election process is the electoral college. With more than 700 proposed constitutional amendments to change the system over its more than 200 year existence, it is even the most disputed part of the Constitution (Uhlmann).
Set up in Article II of the Constitution, the Electoral College works in a similar fashion to the system of primary and delegates; candidates run against each other and whoever wins gets the delegates from that state (“The Electoral College Explained”). At the end of the election day, whoever has the majority of the electoral votes wins the election and becomes president (“Presidential Election Laws”).
However, unlike the primary system, the Electoral College is mostly “a winner-take-all” system, and elections for each state are on the same day (“Presidential Election Laws”). Nonetheless, the two systems are logically very similar as they both work to elect the next president of the United States.
While I have been very critical of the primary elections, I am surprisingly more approving and sympathetic towards the Electoral College. The nearly 700 attempts at reform is by far the most of any subject (Uhlmann). Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” For the electoral college, this idea seems appropriate and understandable.
However, the same cannot be said for the primary elections. According to host of Last Week Tonight John Oliver, Americans only get angry with primaries “during the primary process when it’s impacting the candidate we care about,” yet, as soon as the cycle ends, we seem to forget about our frustrations (LastWeekTonight).
Nevertheless, the Electoral College has its critics. In fact, there is a coalition of more than twenty states that support a bill called the National Popular Vote bill in order to reject the Electoral College (Roller).
This bill would basically discard of the Electoral College and its year of reform to simplify the process of electing the president to popular vote (Roller). However, electing the president cannot be as simple counting heads; if it was that simple, we could get rid of some of the most important parts of the Constitution.
According to Michael Uhlmann of the National Review, getting rid of the Electoral College would not only be illogical but also have huge implications. Uhlmann points out that getting rid of the current system will change “the entire political solar system,” an idea proposed by John F. Kennedy in 1959 (Uhlmann).
Similarly, Uhlmann identifies that the system forces the two candidates “toward the center” (Uhlmann). In fact, we see this theme in the current election cycle. Republican nominee Donald Trump, who previously proposed a ban on Muslim immigration, recently came out to say that it “was only a suggestion” and “hasn’t been called for yet” (Wright).
Also, as integral change to the primary system is unlikely since Iowa has started the election cycle since 1972, the Electoral College provides a voice to larger states (Klein). As I have written about before, smaller states unfairly run the primary elections. However, studies show that larger states actually have the advantage in the Electoral College (“Problems with the Electoral College”). Whether it is makes sense or not, the Electoral College is a balance to the unfair primary system.
As a result, while a shift toward representation for the primaries makes sense, it would be inexplicable for the Electoral System. The current system is needed and advantageous as “the character of a majority is more important than its size alone” (Uhlmann). Without the Electoral College, we could lose sight of the principle that has ran the country for more than 200 years.