31 Reasons To Get Rid Of The Electoral College
1. People are more important than states. People have inalienable rights. States have arbitrary borders.
2. One person’s vote shouldn’t be worth more than anyone else’s.
3. There’s a good case to be made that the Founders created the Electoral College as a compromise to protect slave states. Just ask constitutional law scholar Akhil Amar what the reason for the Electoral College is:
“In my view, it’s slavery. In a direct election system, the South would have lost every time because a huge percentage of its population was slaves, and slaves couldn’t vote. But an Electoral College allows states to count slaves, albeit at a discount (the three-fifths clause), and that’s what gave the South the inside track in presidential elections.”
4. Also, this is why Akhil Amar thinks we still have the Electoral College: “Inertia.” However, the mere fact that change is hard isn’t a good enough reason to keep an anti-democratic method of deciding the leader of the free world.
5. The Founders also said they created the Electoral College to prevent unqualified demagogues from gaining power. Y’all, that didn’t work this year. Alexander Hamilton would not have been happy, based on what he wrote in the Federalist Papers about the Electoral College:
“The choice of several, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of one who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes.
“And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.”
6. It’s okay to admit the Founders were wrong sometimes.
7. When the Founding Fathers laid out the Electoral College, they also thought only white male property-holders would ever vote for electors. They were wrong about that; we don’t have to keep living with the rest of their mistakes.
8. If Electoral College supporters really do think this is the best system to pick leaders, why aren’t they trying to change the rules to elect governors or senators based on who wins a complex combination of the most populated counties?
9. Maybe you’re not concerned about the fact that popular-vote winners don’t always become president, because that’s relatively rare. But still: In every presidential election, every four years, the vast majority of states don’t get to have a real say, and that’s an injustice every time it happens.
Two-thirds of all campaign events in the 2016 general election were in just six states.
And 94 percent of 2016 general election campaign events were in only 12 states.
If presidential democracy is a spectator sport for the vast majority of the country, that discourages people’s sense they can make a difference.
10. The Electoral College makes it harder for people to participate in democracy. People shouldn’t have to waste time traveling from a spectator state to a swing state. They shouldn’t have to afford the gas money or the time off of work to get there.
Everyone should be able to volunteer for a presidential campaign in person in their neighborhood if they want to — no matter if they live Cleveland or Clarendon or Compton—and they should be able to know that it’s making a difference. The barriers to civic participation should be lower.
11. There are also a few reasons why Democrats in particular—or anyone who opposed this year’s Republican nominee—should want to abolish the Electoral College.
If you’re still a partisan Republican, even this year, feel free to skip ahead to #18.
But here’s the first Democratic reason: Hillary Clinton would be president-elect right now if it weren’t for the Electoral College.
12. Hillary Clinton won more votes—by a wider margin than any other presidential candidate who came up short in the Electoral College we know today. (And they’re still counting votes, so that margin could go up.)
13. Hillary Clinton won by more than 300,000 votes in the Bronx — more than she lost by in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin combined. Under the Electoral College, some people matter more than others. That shouldn’t be okay.
14. Also, Al Gore would have been president if it weren’t for the Electoral College.
15. In the 2000s, America could have taken early action on climate change…
16. …paid off the national debt…
17. …and avoided an unnecessary war.
18. It’s also in Republicans’ interests to repeal and replace the Electoral College. If Republicans win the presidency but lose the popular vote, they have less legitimacy.
19. For example: “Rutherford B. Hayes, who beat Samuel Tilden in 1876 but lost the popular vote, served only his promised single term, and was plagued by the nickname ‘Rutherfraud’ that detracted from his political capital.”
20. If Republicans have faith in democracy, and if they believe that they have the best argument to make to voters, then they should trust a more democratic process.
21. If John Kerry had won 58,393 more votes in Ohio, he would have been elected president in 2004 even while losing the national vote by 3 million. Republicans would not have loved that.
22. Side-note, though: Democrats have only lost the popular vote in one presidential election since 1988. So, good luck GOP.
23. Back to nonpartisan reasons. Think the Electoral College is good because it helps give attention (and disproportionate representation) to small states? Only if they’re competitive. No presidential candidate visits North Dakota or Delaware. But with a national popular vote, voters in those states would matter just as much as those in Ohio and Florida.
24. A rural vote shouldn’t count more than an urban vote.
25. An urban vote should count just as much as a rural vote. Every American is a real American.
26. A white vote in Wisconsin shouldn’t count more than a Latina vote in Houston. I could go on.
27. A national popular vote would empower more diverse voters. “Roughly half the U.S. Hispanic population is in Texas or California, another state where Clinton is likely to outperform Obama…without getting any additional Electoral College benefit from it.” Oops, I got partisan again.
28. You can listen to Hillary Clinton or Newt Gingrich — they both support a national popular vote. Clinton in the year 2000: “I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people, and to me that means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president.”
29. Gingrich in 2014: “No one should become president without speaking to the needs and hopes of Americans in all 50 states…America would be better served with a presidential election process that treated citizens across the country equally.”
30. “There have been more proposals for constitutional amendments on changing the Electoral College than on any other subject.” That has to be a good sign. Let’s get it together this time and get the job done.
31. If you’re worried that a constitutional amendment would take too long or be too drastic, here’s some good news: We don’t even need to change the constitution.
States can pass laws to commit their electoral votes to the nationwide popular vote winner — an agreement that would only take effect if enough states signed on to equal an electoral majority. States are already doing this; they’re more than halfway to 270 electoral votes. More info here (and find out how to get involved in persuading your state to take action, if they haven’t already).
A vote is a vote is a vote is a vote. Let’s count them equally, from Honolulu to Hartford and from Anchorage to Atlanta.