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A Failing College This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Created officially on September 6, 1787, during the Philadelphia Convention, the electoral college consists of popularly elected representatives (electors) from all states who come together every four years to formally elect the president and vice president of the United States. Each state was assigned a number of electors based on the combined total of senators and representatives. Electors' responsibility is to dutifully represent the choice of their citizens, based on the popular vote. The system is all-or-nothing, so all of a state's votes go to the candidate who wins a majority of electoral votes in that state. The electoral college was created based on the Constitution's framers' assumption that citizens are unfit to solely elect the country's president. But because voters are represented only by the electors, the electoral college is a perfect example of an indirect election, which makes it a topic of controversy.

The electoral college serves to give states a more equal say. Two hundred years ago, small states feared that large states with large populations would have unfair power in the federal government. Using a system of electoral votes and electors, in simple terms, takes this power from larger states. For example, consider California. With 55 votes, it seems to be the most influential state in the electoral college; therefore, it is important to presidential candidates. Compared to California, sparsely populated states such as North Dakota shouldn't stand a chance of attracting attention in an election year. But though California has 55 times the population of North Dakota, it only has 18 times the number of electors, which reduces its clout. Through this system, one North Dakota citizen is worth three Californians. Because of this, the electoral college favors small states and creates an unfair voter-to-electoral-vote ratio.

The first three words of the ­Declaration of Independence are “We the People.” By electing a president indirectly through elector votes and not by the majority of popular votes – which could be 51 percent or 90 percent, but would still result in all the electoral votes for the state – the votes of a vast swath of citizens (especially in heavily populated areas) are basically discarded. It is shocking that the government possesses the audacity to state “every vote counts” when countless citizens' votes equate to nothing.

This issue was never more apparent than in the 2000 presidential election, the closest and most contested since the establishment of the electoral college. The citizens' choice – Democratic nominee Al Gore – was not elected, as he did not receive the majority of electoral votes. Instead, Republican nominee George W. Bush won by four electoral votes, despite receiving 337,576 fewer popular votes than Gore. The controversy of these results lies not in Bush's slim margin of victory, but instead in the statement that election made about the power of the electoral college to oppose the will of the people. The results were challenged and the Supreme Court was called upon to settle the issue definitively. The court's eventual ruling, in favor of Bush, further ignored the say of the country as well as the democratic institution it was founded upon.

The electoral college was created during a time when it was too complicated to travel throughout every state to count each citizen's vote. Now we have the technology to securely cast and count every vote. The electoral college grants unfair power to small states and invalidates millions of citizens' votes. This may have been the best method when it was created, but today it is outdated. I believe we should abolish the electoral college in favor of more direct ways to represent the will of the American people.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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Elector said...
Sept. 27, 2012 at 9:23 am
The electors from now on have the obligation to se that the Supreme court rules on eligibility of candidates. Most agree that a natural born citizen is born of two citizen parents. Those who support Obama claim otherwise although they are in the minority. I am an elector from Minnesota and there are numerous electors from many parties who now see and understand this problem.  
 
Imaginedangerous This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm
It doens't imbalance the election in favor of small states as much as it does in favor of states that are equally divided between Republicans/Democrats. If you think a North Dakotan is worth more than a Californian, someone from Florida is worth more than the both of them put together and then some. Because of the Electoral College, being a Democrat in Utah or a Republican in New York effectively means that you have no voice at all. It's time we updated our elections and actually made th... (more »)
 
mvymvy said...
Sept. 6, 2012 at 10:58 am
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).   Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in more than 3/4ths of the states that now are just 'spec... (more »)
 
mvymvy said...
Sept. 6, 2012 at 10:55 am
With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation's votes! Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states.  More than 2/3rds of states and voters are ignored. Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (n... (more »)
 
mvymvy said...
Sept. 6, 2012 at 10:53 am
  The Electoral College is now the set of dedicated party activists, who vote as rubberstamps for presidential candidates.  In the current presidential election system, 48 states award all of their electors to the winners of their state. This is not what the Founding Fathers intended.                            ... (more »)
 
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