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Monday, December 19, 2016
MEDIA MONDAY / SHOULD THE USA ABOLISH THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE?
Editor’s Note: Although,
the following essay was published “In Homeland Security,” a newsletter published
online by the American Military University, there was a disclaimer, which
insisted the opinions and comments stated in the following article, and views
expressed by the contributor do not represent the views of American Military
University, American Public University System, its management or employees.
GUEST BLOG / By Dr.
Stephen Schwalbe, Faculty Member, Public Administration at American Military
University--After the recent presidential election, once again the
winner of the popular vote is not going to be the next U.S. president. So many
people wonder why the U.S. does not abolish the Electoral College. The
arguments for eliminating the Electoral College include complaints of bias
within the system toward smaller states, the power of the two-party system and
the failure to protect the democratic principle of popular sovereignty.
2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and then Vice President Al
Gore was the first time since 1888 that the winner of the popular vote did not
win the election, due to the Electoral College system.
the debate has resurfaced because Hillary Clinton won over 2 million more votes
than Donald Trump. However, she did not gain enough Electoral College votes to
win the presidency.
Removal Requires Congressional and State Action
the Electoral College would require a constitutional amendment. An amendment
needs approval by two-thirds of both chambers of Congress and ratification by
three-fourths of state legislatures. Over 11,000 amendments have been proposed
since the ratification of the Constitution in 1788, but only 17 have been
approved (not counting the Bill of Rights).
Electoral Votes Vary
Across the US
538 electors of the Electoral College are composed of the number of
representatives that the states have in Congress plus each state’s two senators.
So there are at least three electors per state and the District of Columbia,
regardless of population size.But
states can gain or lose Electors as their population shifts. For example, New
York State in the mid-1950s led the nation in the number of electoral votes
with 45. As a result of a declining population, New York now ranks third tied
with Florida with 29 electoral votes, behind California’s 55 and Texas’ 38
an electoral vote is not equal across the country. In California, one electoral
vote represents around 600,000 residents, while in Wyoming, one electoral vote
represents just over 150,000 people. With this system, the votes of some
citizens carry more weight than the votes of other citizens, violating the
ideal of equal representation.
Ending the Electoral
College Would Harm Sparsely Populated States and Republicans
primary problem with eliminating the Electoral College is that with only the
popular vote, presidential candidates would focus their campaigns in the larger,
more populated areas of the country. Citizens in sparsely populated states like
Wyoming would be ignored.
than half of the U.S. total population lives in just nine of the 50 states. As
a result, low-population states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,
now critical in the primaries leading up to the general election, would
probably never see a presidential candidate in person again. Clearly, these
states would not support a change to the current system.
also unlikely that the Republican leadership would want a change to the
Electoral College. Democratic majorities live in the major metropolitan areas.
Could Replace Electoral College Voting System
are methods of modifying the selection of electors in each state to make the
system fairer. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is one such
movement. It would award each state’s electoral votes to the winner of the
national popular vote for president. So in this system, the Electoral College
vote would be 538-0 in favor of the candidate with the most popular votes.
the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would effectively neuter the
Electoral College without the need to pass a constitutional amendment. For the
Interstate Compact to work, enough states with a total of at least 270
electoral votes must enter the compact. This number of votes would be enough
electoral votes to sway any future election to the national popular vote
far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have adopted legislation to
implement the compact. Together, these states have 165 electoral votes (61% of
the total needed to work).
each of these states and D.C. voted for the Democratic candidate (i.e., Barack
Obama) in 2012. Because Republican-majority states are unlikely to support this
compact, it is unlikely this approach will succeed any time soon.As such, the Electoral College process of
selecting US presidents is likely to continue indefinitely.However, after each presidential election,
Americans will likely again revisit the issue, especially if the winning
candidate did not receive a majority of the popular vote.
About the Author
Dr. Stephen Schwalbe
is an associate professor at American Military University. He is also an
adjunct professor at Columbia College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Stephen received a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Policy from Auburn
University in 2006. His book about military base closures was published in
2009. FOR MORE: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/upshot/why-trump-had-an-edge-in-the-electoral-college.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_up_20161219&nl=upshot&nl_art=0&nlid=59357801&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0.