Revising the Election Process
Every Presidential election year, the election is determined by a flawed Electoral College. A candidate may win the popular vote but may not receive enough Electoral votes to become President. The Electoral College better represents the states’ say in the election, while the popular vote represents the public’s say in the election. A compromise between the Electoral College and the popular vote would be the best way to elect the President of the United States.
The Electoral College system was loosely based on Centurial Assembly of the Roman Republic (Federal Election Commission). After all votes are tallied in a state the Electors would cast their vote for a candidate who received the majority of the votes. The Electors’ votes are then sealed and mailed to the President of the Senate. On January 6 after receiving the votes, the President of the Senate opens the votes and reads them to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The candidate whom receives at least 270 Electoral votes is declared President. However, if no candidate receives 270 Electoral votes, the House of Representatives votes on the top three candidates. Each state only gets to vote once on a candidate. A candidate must obtain a majority of the votes to be declared President. The House of Representatives will continue to revote until at least one candidate receives a majority of the votes. On January 20th at noon, the duly elected President and Vice-President are sworn into office.
The Electoral College represents both positive and negative ways to elect a candidate to the office of the President of the United States. To begin with, the Electoral College enhances the rights of the states in the role of determining the future leader of the United States. Since each state has at least two Electoral votes, plus more votes based on the distribution of the population between the states, there is not a state which does not have a crucial vote in the election of the President. The Electoral College also prevents largely populated states from dominating the election campaigns of different campaigns. Each candidate can benefit from visiting each state, no matter the population, because the minimum of two votes per state can be a crucial deciding factor in the election. Nonetheless, the Electoral College can vote in a candidate that did not allocate the majority of the popular votes. In 2000, George W. Bush was elected to the office of the President of the United States, despite Al Gore winning the popular vote (CNN). The Electoral College was initially formed by the Founding Fathers, so that election would not be determined by the vote of an uneducated citizen, who did not have the ability to locate information about the candidates. In today’s society, any citizen can find out information about each candidate through television, newspapers, journals, and the internet.
The popular vote is the tally of all votes for each candidate running in the Presidential election. With the writing of the Constitution of the United States, Amendment 15, Amendment 18, and Amendment 26, all citizens over the age of eighteen were guaranteed the right to vote (National Archives). Each citizen’s vote is contributes to the national popular vote. The popular vote however does not directly elect the President; all the votes are used in each state in the determination of which candidate receives the Elector’s vote in the Electoral College.
If the popular vote was used in directly determining the election of the President, there would be positive and negative effects. A positive impact of a direct popular vote would be that each American citizen would be able to directly affect the election of the President. Each voter would have an impact on whether his or her candidate would be able to win the majority of the votes. A negative impact of a direct popular vote is that individual states lose their impact on the United States government. One of the main goals of the Constitution was to guarantee state’s rights and their say in the direction of the government. Losing their vote in an election diminishes their participation in the national government. Also, a direct popular vote could disinterest running Presidential candidates from visiting sparsely populated states. A candidate could focus his or her attention on the densely populated metropolises across the nation and therefore running a more effective campaign.
The most effective and Constitution abiding way of electing would be implementing the popular vote more directly into the Electoral College. First, all votes by citizens in each state would need to be tallied. Whichever candidate won the majority of a states’ citizen’s vote would receive the two votes designated to each state in the Electoral College. The rest of the states’ Electoral votes would be split up among candidates based on the percentages of each candidate’s receiving votes. The candidate in the nation that received the most Electoral votes would be then declared President of the United States.
This new election system would retain the basis of the Electoral College system, while emphasizing the popular vote more than before. Each state would keep its say in the national government with its minimum of two Electoral votes. Also, candidates would be forced to continue visiting the majority of states, due to the fact that each state has at least two crucial votes. In larger states, a candidate would be able to gain Electoral votes, even though he or she may have only lost the state’s election by a small number of votes. The Electoral votes would be more evenly distributed since some states, such as California, can have as many 55 votes (Federal Election Commission). A citizen’s vote would also have more value, since his or her vote could determine if his or her candidate wins the majority in a state or receives enough votes to garner one more Electoral vote.
A revamped Electoral College that uses the popular vote more effectively would be a step in ensuring that both American citizens and states retain their ability to affect the Presidential election. Even though the Founding Fathers thought that the American public were too narrow-minded to directly affect the election, today’s society provides the public with numerous means to determine if a candidate is worthy of his or her vote. This election system would retain the traditions of past while ensuring the rights of all.
"Constitution of the United States." The National Archives. The National Archives. 3 Dec 2007
"Election 2000 - Results." CNN. CNN. 3 Dec 2007
Kimberling, William. "The Electoral College." Federal Election Commission. Federal Election Commission. 3 Dec 2007