Time to can the Electoral College

The National Popular Vote movement is a 21st-century approach to making votes equal.

Luis Ruuska

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently made New York the 11th state to join the fight to effectively end the Electoral College by joining the National Popular Vote.

Under the National Popular Vote effort, 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.

The movement won’t actually have any effect until it reaches the 270-vote majority necessary to elect a presidential candidate, but Cuomo’s support brings the movement’s total number of electoral votes to 165.

New York lawmakers passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, much like other states that have passed similar bills.

Talk of reforming America’s voting system is nothing new, but change doesn’t come easily, which is why no alternative movement has gained traction.

Critics bring up that the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College and that is enough reason to keep it around.

However, the Electoral College’s modern incarnation does not function as the Founders likely intended.

From their writings, we know many of the Founding Fathers were actually afraid of the corruption of democracy and therefore felt that 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 10 swing states, instead of states that are strongholds or lost causes.

We don’t need to look far to see this phenomenon. President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney heavily invested 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 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 him.

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.

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.