President-elect Joe Biden speaks. (Copyright-free photo by Carter Marks.)
Brentwood School

Opinion: Why the Electoral College should be abolished

The electoral college is not a fair system as it is not a clear representation of the voters. There are several cases in American history where the candidate for President of the United States wins the popular vote but does not win the election because of the electoral college.

According to Hank Koransky, an upper school history teacher at Brentwood School, the electoral college was originally made because the leaders of the government did not want to give too much freedom to the people. With the electoral college, people would vote who they wanted to represent their state in the presidential election.

The electoral college was also supposed to be a means to give more representation to the smaller states and to elect the most qualified candidate as President and the second most qualified candidate as the Vice President, according to Koransky. 

The electoral college was created by the framers of the Constitution and has existed since the very first election in the United States. After George Washington won two terms unanimously, he decided not to run in the third election.

John Adams, a Federalist, was elected president and Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican, was elected vice president, even though they are from different political parties. The first time the system was really tested it broke down, electing two candidates of different political parties, but it did its job of electing the two most qualified candidates.

Koransky presents the historical reasoning of why he believes there should not be an electoral college.

“This system was designed for thirteen little states along the Atlantic coast, and the bigger the country got, and the more states were added, the more disproportionate the electoral vote became to the popular vote,” Koransky said.

Additionally, the electoral college does not represent each voter equally because the ratio of population to electoral votes is not equal for all states. 

“Wyoming is 92% white. California is 37% white. A Wyoming voter has nearly 4x more influence than a California voter. The Electoral College is racist. It must be abolished,” Robert Reich, the Former United States Secretary of Labor, said in a tweet. 

According to Koransky, the candidate who lost the popular vote has been elected president five times in American history. There should not be a system that does not match the majority of the public’s opinion nearly ten percent of the time. 

This year, Vice President Joe Biden won the popular vote with 81,282,376 votes, which is more votes than any candidate won in any presidential election. He also received 306 electoral votes while President Trump only received 214, according to NPR. This is how all elections should be; the winner of the popular vote wins the whole election.

The 2016 election was an example of the electoral college not matching the popular vote. According to CNN, in the 2016 election, Hilary Clinton won the popular vote by about 3 million votes. She received 65,853,516 votes, and President Donald Trump, 62,984,825 votes.

Even though Clinton won the popular vote by 2.1%, Trump won the electoral votes. According to CNN, Trump won 306 electoral votes when Clinton only received 232 electoral votes. 

Though I believe that the electoral college should be abolished, the system does have its advantage. It helps to account for voices in less populated areas and the issues they face.

Additionally, the electoral college allows states to split their votes using the congressional district method. This allows the electoral vote to represent different congressional districts in each state.

Two out of the four electoral votes in Maine can potentially be awarded to someone other than the statewide winner. In Nebraska, two of the five votes go to the popular vote winner and that leaves three votes in play. For example, Nebraska and Maine split their votes in the 2020 election.

“The drawbacks to it are monumental, the advantages of it, I don’t see any… I favor the popular vote. And of course, the popular vote is how all other democracies in the world elect their president,” Koransky said.

While there are some advantages to the electoral college, I believe that the most qualified candidate should be elected directly by the people and should not have to go through the electoral college.