November 18, 2016

The electoral college system has lost its touch

Student Opinion

By Ryan Hiles —

I want to preface this by saying I accept the election results. As much as it shakes me to my core, Donald Trump is my president and he won that title through a legitimate election. He won, fair and square.

With that out of the way, let’s discuss the electoral college. It seems awfully convenient to criticize electoral mechanisms after an election doesn’t go your way, but my confusion at the enduring existence of the electoral college is nothing new.

Since the 2000 election when Al Gore won the popular vote but still lost, I’ve questioned the democratic efficacy of a system that allows for such a result.For the second time in my lifetime, the democratically elected candidate lost, and I’m left asking the same questions I’ve been asking for years.

I understand why we are not a direct democracy in all things. Civil rights, for instance, should not be able to be revoked on an electoral whim. But is it really mod rule, as some have referred to the popular vote, to honor the principle of one person, one vote? As it stands, I, a Democrat in a red state, don’t feel like I have a voice in elections. I’m guessing there are a few Republicans in New York and California who can relate.

Amid the chorus of criticism, I heard defenses of the electoral college, but only a few I would consider well founded.

One notion was the electoral college accounts for the interests of individual states rather than the electoral force of highly populated states. This makes sense in theory, but doesn’t hold up because it assumes states to be homogenous. By awarding a candidate the support of an entire state, we’re disregarding any nuance that might exist in the state’s electorate.

While we assume political loyalties based on geography, the electoral college only exacerbates the problem. Politicians refer to political divisiveness as a cancer and ponder what could possibly be done to heal the country’s partisan divisions. Why don’t we think about doing away with the staggeringly antiquated system that splits us into different colors like we’re picking teams in P.E. class? Maybe then I can feel like my vote is more than a futile, symbolic gesture, and actually feel that my voice is heard.

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