Prior to Election Day, the presidential candidates encouraged American citizens to go to the polls and vote. When November 8th, 2016 arrived, millions of Americans followed through and went to the polls to offer their opinion about who should be the next president. However, it was simply an opinion due to how the Electoral College functions.
The inherent issue with the Presidential Election is how it is carried out. Each state has a given number of electoral votes based on their population. Within each state, citizens are given the opportunity to vote; whichever candidate wins a majority of the votes is given all of the electoral votes for that state. This results in how many electoral votes are given to each candidate as being unrepresentative.
In the 2016 election, Donald Trump received 2,912,351 votes in Pennsylvania, while Hillary Clinton lagged behind by a mere 68,012 votes. Despite the margin between these two candidates being so little, all of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral college votes went to Donald Trump. Does this make the input from those who voted for Clinton negligent? After all, they are no longer represented in the Electoral College vote.
Another instance of all of the Electoral College votes going to Trump instead of Clinton despite a small margin occurred in Wisconsin, where Trump had 27,257 more votes than Clinton. Due to Trump gaining an extra .9% of the population that voted in Wisconsin as compared to Clinton, he won Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College votes. Again, is the voice of those that voted for Hillary silenced? If each state functions so that the winner takes all, is the final vote for who becomes president actually reflective of the entire population?
Due to how the Electoral College functions and winner-takes-all in most states, who is elected President is not actually representative of the voting population. In the entirety of the election, Clinton received 61,039,676 votes, while Trump received 60,371,193 votes. This means that Clinton received 668,483 more votes than Trump, yet, due to how the Electoral College functions, she did not receive the 270 Electoral College votes that she needed to win. Rather, she received only 228 Electoral College votes compared to Trump, who received 290. Clinton received the majority of individual votes, but Trump won by a slight margin more states in winner-takes-all, so he, in turn, won the presidency.
It can be seen that due to how the Electoral College currently functions, it is not representative of the United States voting population, so how could it be improved upon? Does it still function how it was originally intended to?
Originally, many voters were uninformed of the policies of the Presidential candidates as televisions and news broadcasting methods did not exist. Therefore, in order to make an informed decision, it was decided upon that there would be a subsidiary method to elect the President – the Electoral College. The original thought was those voting from each state for the Electoral College would be more informed to make a decision.
However, with cell phones, televisions, and the media becoming an everyday aspect of society, voters have the ability to make an informed decision. In the least, they are given an opportunity to research the candidates’ policies. Meanwhile, the representatives voting in the Electoral College make no less informed of a vote than the citizens voting in their state. The representatives generally vote how the majority did in their state.
The Electoral College should not be dismantled, but improved upon. The Electoral College, although generally follow how their state voted, allow a fail-safe system so that if they decide a candidate is unfit for presidency, they can vote unlike their state. However, it could be made more representative of the majority vote by each state dividing their Electoral votes based upon the proportions of votes in their state. For example, for this year’s election, 6 of Indiana’s 11 votes would have gone to Trump, 4 to Clinton, and 1 to the libertarian nominate.