BY COLIN CRAWFORD
The United States has fostered democracy since its establishment almost two and a half centuries ago and is the most powerful country in the world. However, democracy in the United States is unique because it isn’t as purely democratic as people believe. The Electoral College, the way the nation elects the president, is one example of this because the population does not directly elect the president, and that needs to change. However, attempts to change the system to be more democratic are met with pessimism.
The Founding Fathers did not trust the people of the country to be properly informed enough to logically cast a vote for anything, so they created a representative democracy where people ask their representatives to make those decisions for them. However, times have changed and the public is more educated than they were centuries ago, so this antiquated system, a bygone of the early days of our republic, needs to go. The Electoral College works as a winner-take-all system, which means the person who wins the state’s popular vote wins their electors, except Maine and Nebraska which split their electors.
The Electoral College is written in the Constitution and the creators of this democracy purposefully made it extremely difficult to amend the Constitution, that is why there are only 27 today and it is partially why the Equal Rights Amendment failed to materialize in the late 1970s. Even though according to a Gallup Poll conducted in September, 61% of Americans support such an amendment in favor of using the popular vote instead, it is a moot statistic. A Pew Research poll found 60% of Americans support gun control reform. Has there been substantial gun control laws passed as a result? The answer is no. The country is too divided and an amendment would never pass because state legislatures, a majority of which are divided or Republican led, are also required to ratify the amendment.
It is also not right to ask the people of densely populated states to have their votes count for less. One electoral vote from Wyoming represents about 178,000 people while one electoral vote in California represents 745,200 people. The concept of one person one vote doesn’t exist in presidential elections and it is hurting the democracy of the United States. Two presidents in this century have been elected while simultaneously losing the popular vote; that shouldn’t happen in a healthy democracy.
Some states like Colorado are hoping to fix this problem by creating a coalition that awards electoral votes based on the national popular vote and not the state-wide vote. There have been legal questions about this because it is essentially the states ignoring federal law (the Constitution). While it is hard to see this being adopted by enough states to cross the 270 threshold, it is an applaudable attempt by state governments to make presidential elections more democratic.
It is obvious that, for the time being, the Electoral College is sticking around whether the country likes it or not, but perhaps in the future when the country is less divided this nation will finally achieve real democracy.