Imagine going down to the polling place and placing your vote for the next president of the United States. You firmly believe that your one vote can make all the difference. And while in ways it does, sometimes it can make hardly a dent in the deciding vote for our next commander-in-chief.
Why is that? It's because of the Electoral College.
When you place your vote on Election Day, you are really placing a vote for a representative who will essentially elect the president. Each state has as many electors as it does senators and representatives in Congress. That means New York State has 31 electors. There are 538 total electors who vote in the Electoral College; a majority of at least 270 votes is needed to win an election.
Many people feel the United States should get rid of the Electoral College. For one, the president elected by the Electoral College may not be the same president who won the popular vote, or the most votes directly from average voters. This happens because 48 of 50 states have a winner-take-all policy. If a candidate wins the majority vote in a state, the electors all vote for the same candidate. Electors have the choice to not follow that popular vote, but that is a rare occurrence.
So, if large states that have many votes in the college all vote for one candidate, even if that candidate won only by a small majority, the voting process is weighed down by votes that may not reflect everyone's views. As a result, the popular vote winner does not become president of the United States.
This has happened three times in our history: in 1876, 1888, and most recently, in the year 2000. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore was running against Republican George W. Bush. Gore had 50,999,897 votes and Bush had 50,456,002, yet Bush won because of the Electoral College votes. This was a huge disappointment to many voters and clearly showed off our flawed voting system.
Opponents also argue that the Electoral College depresses voter turnout, that is, discourages many people from voting in an election because they feel their vote has no real significance. States don't encourage voter participation because they know they will receive the same number of votes no matter how many people turn out. If we do away with the College, voter turnout may actually increase.
The Electoral College is still in use and will be used in Tuesday's presidential election.
If so many people are so against it, why hasn't it been done away with? To get rid of the Electoral College, a constitutional amendment must be made. Numerous proposals have been made in Congress to amend the constitution and replace the College with a direct popular vote, but none has ever successfully been passed both houses.
The Electoral College has been around for more than 200 years. Many believe it is an archaic process that should be changed in order to elect our president more fairly. We have the technology to count every person's vote. Why not make use of that and get rid of the Electoral College?
Rebecca Bratek is a senior at Immaculata.