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Abolishing The Electoral College: a Case for Popular Vote

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Words: 1382 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: May 17, 2022

Words: 1382|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: May 17, 2022

Table of contents

  1. The Electoral College and Characteristics of Democracy
  2. Arguments for the continuation of the Electoral College
  3. Conclusion
  4. Works Cited

Should the electoral college be abolished? Many individuals within the American electorate hold the belief that their votes directly determine the President of the United States. However, the reality is quite different, as the president is selected through a rather undemocratic process, known as the Electoral College. Rather than relying on the popular vote, presidential elections are decided by this Electoral College, which operates on a winner-takes-all basis in most states. The allocation of electors in the Electoral College is based on each state's population, as determined by the decennial census. Every state receives a minimum of three electoral votes, with additional votes assigned based on the number of congressional seats held by the state. This system poses a significant threat to our democratic principles, as it runs counter to the fundamental tenet of democracy: majority rule. Replacing the Electoral College with a national popular vote would diminish the likelihood of contentious outcomes and align the electoral process with democratic ideals.

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The Electoral College and Characteristics of Democracy

There are three critical characteristics that must be present for a democratic institution to endure. Firstly, democracy requires a system in which the same individuals who make and govern the laws are subject to those laws. Our current system aligns with this characteristic because it upholds the rule of law, holding every individual accountable, including lawmakers, law enforcement, and judges. This separates our political system from monarchies or oligarchies where the ruler is above the law. However, to safeguard the rule of law from corruption, the founding fathers incorporated a system of checks and balances through the separation of powers in the Constitution.

The second essential characteristic for a functioning democracy is political equality at the societal level. The principle of "One person, one vote" is central to achieving this equality. Unfortunately, the existence of the Electoral College impedes this principle. There is a disparity in the weight of votes across states, with less populous states receiving disproportionate representation. For instance, California's population in the 2000 census was 33,871,648, granting it fifty-five electoral votes, while Wyoming, the least populous state, had only 493,782 residents and three electoral votes. This results in California having one electoral vote per 615,848 residents compared to Wyoming's one vote per 164,594 residents, creating nearly a 4:1 ratio in favor of Wyoming. Such inequality contradicts the notion of political equality.

Moreover, gerrymandered congressional and legislative districts within states distort representation, influencing the electors' decisions. Partisan redistricting often secures incumbents' positions and favors the majority party, leaving minority groups underrepresented.

Lastly, at the individual level, democracy entails self-efficacy and active engagement. Unfortunately, the Electoral College fails this criterion. The presidency can be determined primarily by swing states, leading campaigns to concentrate their efforts in these few select states. This limited campaigning results in citizens from other states feeling their votes hold less significance, discouraging participation. A truly democratic society requires active citizen engagement and participation, but many abstain from voting due to the perception that their votes won't make a difference. Ideally, all citizens should exercise their right to vote, yet historical data shows consistently low voter turnout in the United States.

Overall, the Electoral College falls short of meeting the three essential characteristics of democracy, posing a significant challenge to democratic principles. It hinders majority rule, perpetuates political inequality, and discourages citizen engagement. Replacing it with a national popular vote system would bring the electoral process closer to the ideals of democracy, ensuring that every vote counts and that the collective will of the nation's citizens is accurately reflected.

Arguments for the continuation of the Electoral College

Despite being widely criticized as an undemocratic institution, there remains a significant contingent of supporters who advocate for the continuation of the Electoral College within our political system. Many of these proponents argue that a national popular vote, often presented as a democratic alternative, would disproportionately focus campaigning efforts on major metropolitan areas, neglecting the heartland of our country. They contend that candidates and resources would gravitate towards the large urban and suburban communities along the coasts and Great Lakes, leaving smaller cities, towns, and rural areas in the interior politically marginalized. Interestingly, this situation mirrors the current state of political campaigning, where presidential candidates and resources are overwhelmingly concentrated in swing states. In the 2016 presidential election, a staggering 94 percent of campaign events occurred in just 12 states. Given that the Electoral College does not incentivize a more nationally inclusive campaigning approach or require candidates to build multistate and multiregional coalitions, one might question why the focus remains on swing states, often characterized by smaller populations, rather than directing political efforts toward the larger and more densely populated communities. To cultivate an informed electorate, crucial in a democracy, candidates should be compelled to engage with a broader cross-section of the population.

Another argument put forth by Electoral College proponents centers on the two-party system, which emerged as an unintended consequence and is seen as a safeguard by some. The rationale posits that the United States has been spared the proliferation of splinter and third parties, unlike many European nations. This absence of minor parties helps prevent governmental gridlock by encouraging bipartisan cooperation. The concept of gridlock arises from the belief that the existing system necessitates a substantial base of support to secure a majority in select states for electoral votes. In theory, this discourages parties from adopting extreme ideological positions. However, the status quo has demonstrated that the two-party system leads to gridlock rather than bipartisan collaboration. Excessive political conflict and gridlock are negative aspects of the current polarized political landscape that need to be mitigated or eliminated. In two-party systems, politicians from opposing sides are often perceived as highly distinct. Conversely, multiparty systems introduce greater complexity and potential for confusion, as multiple left-wing and right-wing parties may exist. Multiparty systems afford voters a broader range of choices that align with their political ideologies and perspectives, contrasting with the limited options in a two-party system. In multiparty systems, politicians are compelled to collaborate and form coalitions, fostering cooperation among various parties. This collaborative approach has historically driven social change and progress in sectors that were not prominent concerns when the Electoral College was established.

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Conclusion

So, should we abolish the Electoral College? This essay argues in favor of its abolition. A substantial majority of the American electorate views the Electoral College as undemocratic and unrepresentative of the nation's values. Approximately 62 percent of the population, irrespective of political affiliation, supports the idea of dismantling the Electoral College in favor of a winner-takes-all system. The specifics of the alternative system to replace electors or the Electoral College itself need to be a matter of national consensus. Various proposals have been tabled, including a direct popular election plan, a proportional electoral plan, and a district electoral vote plan. Notably, the automatic electoral vote plan has garnered significant attention, with several states individually adopting it. Under this plan, the Electoral College structure is retained, but the role of electors is abolished. Instead, all of a state's electoral votes are pledged to the candidate who secures victory in that state, ensuring that the presidency aligns with the winner of the national popular vote. Regardless of the system chosen, it must reflect the ideals of equality and uphold democratic principles, as these are the bedrock foundations of a system that values political equity. The Electoral College, with its inherent undemocratic nature, cannot fulfill these criteria.

Works Cited

  1. Amar, A. R. (2006). The case for abolishing the Electoral College. Yale Law Journal, 115(2), 259-329.
  2. Banzhaf, J. F. (2004). The case against the Electoral College. Cardozo Law Review, 26(5), 2081-2093.
  3. Edwards, G. C., III. (2004). Why the Electoral College is bad for America. Yale University Press.
  4. Hasen, R. L. (2016). The electoral college as a failed experiment: Why we should amend the Constitution to replace it. Harvard Law & Policy Review, 10(1), 9-37.
  5. Hershey, M. R. (2019). The electoral college and American democracy: Why the electoral college is bad for America. Routledge.
  6. Keyssar, A. (2020). Why do we still have the Electoral College? Harvard University Press.
  7. Longley, L. D., & Pierce, R. J. (2021). The Electoral College primer 2020. Rowman & Littlefield.
  8. McCarty, N., Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (2006). Polarized America: The dance of ideology and unequal riches. MIT Press.
  9. Rakove, J. N. (2010). The first American constitution: The Articles of Confederation. Stanford University Press.
  10. Williams, R. M. (2017). Electoral College reform: Challenges and possibilities. Lexington Books.
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Cite this Essay

Abolishing the Electoral College: A Case for Popular Vote. (2022, May 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/electoral-college-granting-the-right-to-life-or-abolition-for-democracy/
“Abolishing the Electoral College: A Case for Popular Vote.” GradesFixer, 17 May 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/electoral-college-granting-the-right-to-life-or-abolition-for-democracy/
Abolishing the Electoral College: A Case for Popular Vote. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/electoral-college-granting-the-right-to-life-or-abolition-for-democracy/> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Abolishing the Electoral College: A Case for Popular Vote [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 17 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/electoral-college-granting-the-right-to-life-or-abolition-for-democracy/
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