Whenever an election is held in the United States to determine the President and Vice President, voters often vote for the presidential Electors, who are collectively referred to as the Electoral College; thus, the Electoral College is not a venue, but rather a means of determining who wins to become the president of the United States (Ross and William 665). After the people elect the Electors, it becomes their mandate to vote for their chief executive, who is the President. Constitutionally, each state in the US is assigned a number of Electors who when combined, equal the total of the House Representatives and Senate (Ross and William 665). Every four years, Americans vote in new Presidents in a unique democratic process. Voters (the citizens) are represented by the Electors who then vote for the president per state on behalf of the rest. Some of the American voters recognize the Electoral College as the inequitable practice that generalizes the option of the populace. The choice of the US presidency depends on the college votes and not the popular votes. However, controversies have arisen over the credibility and inclusivity of the process. In the year 2013, a research was conducted by Gallup to find out how many people supported the dismissal of the Electoral College, 63% of the respondents agreed they would be in favor of dismissing the process (Ross and William 667). Many people have given their different views and opinions about the electoral process, and till date, there are several controversies as people show dissatisfaction in the whole process; they would want a case where they are directly involved in deciding who their president is instead of being represented by the Electors.
The Electoral College came into existence as a way of Constitutional Convention trying to offer several possible methods of electing the President (Festa 2099). One of the ideas then was to leave the whole process of electing the President to be conducted by the Congress, although it was rejected on the basis that would be too divisive, while others viewed it that such an idea would lead to a lot of corruption, interference from foreigners, and apparently unseemly political bargaining (Festa 2099). The second thought was to have the legislatures selecting the President and was also rejected. The direct popular vote was the third option for electing the President and was also rejected because it was believed it would attract many contestants and probably no one among them would emerge the winner with the popular majority.
The final alternative was reached by the Committee of Eleven who proposed a method of electing the President through an indirect election by the College Electors (Festa 2100). The process was linked to that of the Roman Catholics when they are electing the Pope through the College of Cardinals, and the idea was based purely on electing the President based on merit without considering which state he/she came from or which political orientation the contestant was (Festa 2100). Since the 12th Amendment, there have been two designs of the Electoral College and there have also been various state and federal statute changes in the College which have impacted both on the time and the comportment of choosing the Electors. However, the fundamental function of the Electoral College has remained intact over years. Although the college system of voting usually shows some form of the population representation to some extent, it is criticized by many people as being vulnerable to manipulation.
The Criticisms of the Electoral College
The Electoral College continues to amaze people by the various controversies experienced in the past and is still noticed today. For example, in highly polarized elections in the US, it is not uncommon to find that a loser in the popular majority vote, can emerge the winner the in the Electoral College vote (Josephson and Beverly 145). The above scenario has occurred four times in the US’s election history (1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000). The contrary is that this constitutes only about 10% of the total 56 presidential elections conducted in the US where the winner of the majority votes, wins the Electoral College vote as well (Josephson and Beverly 146). The second criticism is that the Electoral College can alter the presidential campaign by emphasizing more on the smaller states and derailing the urban-centric elections. The case of 2016 elections in the US was controversial and contrary to the expectation of many (Josephson and Beverly 146). The whole of the US had swing states which could easily be manipulated by the Electoral College voting to secure a win for the president. The Electoral College is vulnerable to manipulation; it involves placing the voting rights in the hand of one person who can be easily influenced. The voting process is usually a secret process and every individual will prefer their choices when voting. When one individual is taxed with a scenario or representing a section of voters, going contrary to their will can lead to the unfairness in the voting process. It is, therefore, essential to adopt a better scenario that can assure voters their right choice. The Electoral College is usually deemed unfair in cases where a presidential candidate wins the popular votes with a huge margin but fails to secure the maximum Electoral votes required. In the above circumstances, the elections are normally characterized by the dissatisfactions and demonstrations that do not usually show the true picture of America, a society that is deemed democratic.
The US citizens should be left to participate in the simple majority elections where the contestant who scoops the highest number of votes is the winner. Alternatively, there could be a runoff in a case where all the presidential candidates do not get the minimum required percentage of the majority votes. Letting the American citizens decide by themselves without representation by the Electoral College would be giving power to the people and that hence more democratic than the current provisions of the constitution which restrict the presidential winner to be determined by the representatives (Electoral College). Letting the people decide who their president would be will prevent the cases of protests where few representatives with personal interest end up electing the president people a majority of do not want. There are sections of the Americans who argue that the Electoral College was introduced by the founding fathers due to the lack of the proper transport networks. It was difficult for voters to move to longer distances to cast their votes. On the other hand, the advancement in technology and the improvement in the transport system that characterizes the modern society should provide a reason to abolish the College system of voting. The review or the elimination of the Electoral College system of voting will reduce the cases of dissatisfactions and post-election demonstrations that usually face the American society.
Every nation has its own method of carrying out election or selection of her leaders. The US is one of the countries in the world which have unique democratic governments. The election of the President in the US to many does not seem as inclusive since the citizens are not directly involved in determining their president. There have been several criticisms and controversies surrounding the Electoral College in the US mainly on how the Electors can be manipulated easily to elect the President a majority of the people do not want even if the Candidate had the lowest in a majority vote. It is, therefore, prudent to go for alternatives which would be so inclusive, participatory, and direct to all the American citizens in the process of determining who their President becomes. The Electoral College should, therefore, be abolished since many people do not have trust in it.
Festa, Matthew J. “The Origins and Constitutionality of State Unit Voting in the Electoral College.” Vand. L. Rev. 54 (2001): pp.2099-2101.
Josephson, William, and Beverly J. Ross. “Repairing the Electoral College.” J. Legis. 22 (2006): pp.145.
Ross, Beverly J., and William Josephson. “The Electoral College and the popular vote.” JL & Pol. 12 (2006): pp.665-68.