The Electoral College Needs to be Abolished

Former President Donald Trump won the 2016 electoral college vote. Photo courtesy of Gage.

Photo By Gage

Former President Donald Trump won the 2016 electoral college vote. Photo courtesy of Gage.

By Sean Thomas

The article “The Electoral College Should Not be Abolished” by Amoli Agarwal ‘23 does not provide a valid argument as to why the electoral college should be kept in place. According to Agarwal, the purpose of the electoral college is to ensure that people in less populated areas can have their voices heard. Without the electoral college, candidates would only campaign in big cities and ignore less populated areas. However, this is simply not true. 

First of all, the 100 biggest cities in the United States only contain 20 percent of their population, meaning that campaigning only in large cities would still be a poor strategy even under a national popular vote system. Additionally, candidates ignore large parts of the country during presidential campaigns, even with the electoral college. The winner-take-all system leads candidates to ignore states they already know will go one way or another and instead focus on a handful of swing states. In the 2016 presidential election, over half of the campaign events were held in just four states: Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, while 87 percent were in just 12 states and 27 states, many of which were rural, didn’t receive any visits at all. On top of that, most of the campaign events in these swing states were held in urban areas, which is reasonable as that’s where candidates can gain the most votes to win the state. In fact, the electoral college can have the opposite effect of protecting large states from stamping on the rights of small states as a candidate can win an election by winning only the 11 most populous states and no votes in the other 39 other states, which goes against the electoral college’s supposed purpose of required candidates to appeal to several different types of voters as Agarwal puts it.  

Second, the electoral college does not ensure equal representation among voters. For one, the electoral college causes countless people’s voices to be drowned out solely based on the state they live in because of the system’s winner-take-all nature. For example, there are millions of Republican voters in deep blue states like California and New York, but their votes effectively mean nothing, given that the Democratic candidate will easily win the popular vote in these states and take all of their electoral votes. Similarly, in deep-red states like Oklahoma and Alabama, the hundreds of thousands of votes for the Democratic candidate are essentially worthless as these states and their electoral votes will go to the Republican candidate. This may also lower voter turnout since many people may not even bother to vote if they’re in a solidly Democratic or Republican state as they already know which candidate their state will go to. This would make our democracy less effective as democracies depend on people participating to function. In addition, the electoral college gives disproportionate representation to small states as they have considerably fewer people per elector. For example, Wyoming has about four times fewer people per elector than California, meaning a vote in the former counts four times as much as one in the latter. Is it reasonable for your vote to count differently solely based on where you live?                                   

The article then goes into a series of what-if scenarios should a president be elected by a majority of the popular vote, including dissolving the country into a monarchy or controlling voting methods or how many votes a state can contribute, etc. However, the author doesn’t provide any evidence that these things would occur if we didn’t have the electoral college. Even if a president were to try to do this, we still have a system of checks and balances to ensure that the president can’t abuse their power. Also, look at other countries that elect leaders through a national popular vote. Have any of these things occurred in these countries? The author claims that we are only a democracy because of the electoral college, so does that make these other countries not democracies? Of course not. The idea that we need the electoral college to be a democracy is far from the truth. The electoral college is an anti-democratic system that must be abolished to have a democracy where everyone’s voices truly matter.