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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, March 03, 2024

The Electoral College, although unpopular, still serves a valuable purpose

The race is over; the ads are gone; the smoke has cleared. Obama has come out on top with 332 electoral votes and over half of the popular vote to boot. I thought the election was going to be much closer than it was but I guess that the general public is still capable of separating the nuts from the berries; my belief in the people is restored. While this election was a clean call there have been years when the statistics did not line up. In the presidential election between former President George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000, the results were decidedly split. The race had been close, with Gore winning the popular vote but Bush winning the presidency through a victory in the Electoral College. How is that right? How is that democratic? HOW IS THAT AMERICAN?

While the Electoral College has been questioned several times over the history of the United States, it has never, and probably will never, be removed. Many who dislike the electoral system say that the college suppresses the votes of the individual and that its ability to elect a president without the popular support of the country is contradictory to the American ideology of freedom and choice. While I agree that the system is flawed as far as consistency between popular vote and electoral vote, I would have to say that it is not enough of a problem for the government to have to destroy it.

The Electoral College serves purposes we seldom think about and often take for granted. For one, the current system enforces a distribution of attention from the candidates. If it weren’t for the fact that Wisconsin has electoral votes, the president would not have stopped at campus a few weeks ago. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that smaller states like Wisconsin and Iowa have electoral votes the candidates would have paid us no attention.

The reason that the Electoral College will not be brought down is because an election run purely on the basis of a popular vote would be disgustingly lopsided. In a purely democratic electoral system the candidates would have only stuck to large densely populated cities in order to maximize the impact of their appearances. This would mean that states like Colorado or Nebraska would never set an eyeball on a presidential candidate. By enforcing an even distribution of popularity throughout the country the Electoral College makes it so that no matter if the victor wins or loses the popular vote, he/she is capable of running the country as a result of sufficient popular support in the majority of the country. A more important component of the Electoral College is the power it gives to special interest groups. Since almost every state awards its electoral votes on a winner-take-all battleground, large populations of a certain interest group in a single state have an enormous impact on the outcome of an election. For this reason, voting groups like Latinos, unions workers, and the Tea Partiers hold weight in an election. The candidates are forced to pander for the support of these special interest groups, which is healthy in a government meant to support the interests of all people.

 The Founding Fathers originally created the Electoral College with the purpose of ensuring that the stupidity of the general public would not destroy the country through the election of an incompetent leader. Though the Electoral College remains the same, its purpose has changed dramatically. Don’t hate, appreciate.

Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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