As election approaches, remember the popular vote

Talk of reforming America’s voting system is nothing new, but change doesn’t come easily. 
 
 
From their writings, we know many of the Founding Fathers were actually afraid of democracy and therefore felt the decision of electing the president was best left up to qualified people like lawmakers. This is the reasoning behind the Electoral College.
 
 
But in an age when information is so easily accessible, it’s tough to make the argument that lawmakers are the only ones who have the ability to make a qualified judgment on which presidential candidate should receive a state’s electoral votes.
 
 
Additionally, the Electoral College diminishes the vote of the political minorities within any state. In a safely blue state, a Republican’s vote is worth very little; the same goes for a Democrat in a safely red state.
 
 
Political minorities feel further isolated because most presidential campaigns tend to heavily focus nearly all of their time and resources on swing states.
 
 
We don’t need to look far to see this phenomenon. President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney invested heavily in television advertising during the 2012 election. While Obama spent $314.8 million on television ads and Romney spent $147.8 million, they both spent more than 99 percent of their money in just 10 states.
 
 
However, the Electoral College’s biggest shortcoming is in its ability to elect a president who wins the electoral vote but not the popular vote.
 
 
This scenario played out in the infamous presidential election of 2000, when Vice President Al Gore lost to Texas Gov. George W. Bush through the Electoral College, even though Gore had approximately half a million more popular votes than his opponent.
 
 
The Founding Fathers were not infallible. Though they had incredible insight, what worked for democracy in the 18th and 19th centuries does not work in the 21st century.
 
 
Under the National Popular Vote effort, however, states move away from a system of giving electoral votes to the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote in favor of a system in which the candidate who wins the national popular vote receives electoral votes.
 
 
While the National Popular Vote effort does not eliminate the Electoral College, it makes it more efficient and democratic. That’s an idea we should all get behind. 
 
 
Luis Ruuska
 
 
A version of this article originally appeared in the Minnesota Daily April 24, 2014.