There is a debate on whether the U.S. should shift from the Electoral College voting system to a direct voting system or one based on popular vote or not. The main arguments are that the current system is not democratic because individual votes do not count towards the final decision and that the system has led to declining voter turnout (Koza 1-3). However, others emphasize that the current voting system enhances democracy because it ensures that all states contribute towards the final decision since each has a vote through their representative delegates (Weissberg 115-118). Although those proposing a shift to a popular voting system have points worthy to consider, the current electoral system is the best one because it gives all states equal power in determining the winning presidential candidate.
The first point of contention among scholars is whether the current electoral system protects or violates people’s voting rights. Koza is concerned that the Electoral College voting system does not observe people’s constitutional right to vote (1). The author argues that most presidential candidates concentrate on divided battleground states where they can easily win the bloc of electoral votes. From Koza’s point of view, National Popular Vote system will force both Republicans and Democrats presidential aspirants to visit all the states to seek support because all the votes will be equally important (1). However, protection of people’s right does not necessarily imply accounting for every vote. Weissberg offers the same idea by arguing that the U.S. can also safeguard individual voting rights without having to account for every vote (115). Moreover, the U.S. has had more than seven constitutional amendments and they deemed the College Voting system as appropriate. Koza’s assertion that about 70% of public prefer the popular vote system is just a personal allegation because one would wonder how the system came into place despite such a number of people rejecting it.
Experts are further concerned about the effects of current U.S. voting system on voter turnout. According to Koza, the Electoral College system has reduced voter turnout because presidential aspirants overlook votes from small regions (4). He maintains that a popular voting system will force presidential candidates to seek votes from all regions regardless of the number of voters in them. In other words, a direct election or popular election system will provide states more incentives to come out in large numbers to vote. The new system will encourage people to register as voters and wake up early during the voting day to cast their votes because they know they will count toward the outcomes. Koza raises an important point because the new proposed election system will encourage people to vote in large numbers because they know that each vote will count. The current system is based on predetermined number of votes a presidential candidate needs to win the election. As such, people are not motivated to vote.
However, the author overlooked the economic aspect of a direct voting system. Weissberg concurs that the system will increase voter turnout but it will be expensive and fatigue the electorate (115-116). Nonetheless, this is not a good point to dismiss the urge for a system that will increase voter turnout and make candidates seek mandate from areas. Indeed, the activity Weissberg refers as hyper-physical will enrich democracy because the majority will understand the ideology and capacity of person they will elect for president.
Nonetheless, Weissberg has a point where he suggests the use of media to shower attention on voters in all states thus cutting the cost. From Koza’s understanding, a candidate should personally pay attention to every voter note only those in key states. However, Koza overlooks an important point raised by Weissberg that the current system also forces presidential candidates to focus on every voter because h/she has to win in as many states as possible. Therefore, the point of campaigning 24/7 does not increase voter turnout more than advertising across all states without personally having to travel.
The other central argument over the College Electoral system is interference with people’s democratic rights. According to Koza, the current system allows presidential candidates to win elections without getting popular votes like it happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000 implying that the system does not promote democracy (2). This is an important observation but getting popular vote does not necessary promote democracy because it will allow candidates to focus on states with high population, ignore small states, but still win elections. Weissberg clarifies that state-by-state choice in presidential elections promotes strong democracy because even states count toward the final decision (116-117). Weissberg has a strong point because the current election system forces presidential candidates to spend equal energy in all states to seek support as opposed to a popular vote system in which concentrating on only a few large states will guarantee one a ticket to white house.
Koza insists that the California Legislature has proposed legislation that requires any winning candidate to get majority vote across all 50 states and the Columbia District (2-3). This law means that a presidential aspirant should get most votes to win the presidency. However, the author takes for granted the fact that the law will increase chances of candidates overlooking states with a few votes since the main idea will be collecting majority votes. Weissberg offers a counter argument to this proposition arguing that the proposed law will encourage a “winner-takes-all system” which can mean just focusing on 10 states but still win the elections (115). In other words, candidates will ignore significant numbers of states but still win the election. That is, gaining support in lowa and a few other regions will provide enough votes to will the election. In such case, the system will suppress democracy which it is meant to foster.
Moreover, some presidential candidates might maneuver the system or engage in clever court cases to emerge popular thus hampering democracy. Weissberg warns that the results based on a direct voting system might be victory by clever litigation (117). Contrary to Koza’s argument, this will not be a democratic triumph. Therefore, the popular vote system might offer loopholes for influential or wealthy presidential candidates to rise to power. From the popular electoral system perspective, such candidate should win the election. However, the College Electoral system avoids such biased view by considering the voices of all states in making the final decision. The current system ensures that the candidate who emerges the winner is supported by majority of states rather than majority votes.
In conclusion, the current U.S. electoral system is far better than a popular voting system. The U.S. comprises of various states with varied population sizes. The College Electoral system promotes equality and democracy by accounting for the contribution of each state towards the election of the president. Although the alternative voting system, which is direct voting system can increase voter turnout, accounting for individual vote will give a loophole for presidential candidates with influence in particular states to gather support only from such region and win the election. Such system will harm democracy which it is said to enhance.
Koza, R. John. “Every Vote Equal: A State-based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote.” National Popular Vote Press, 2008. Print.
Weissberg, Robert. “Arnold: Terminate this Gimmick.” Print.