Is the Electoral College a good or a bad system for conducting an election?

 

First, I would like to emphasize that my analysis of the Electoral College is not done in the context of an 18th century America but in today's context. These are two diametrically different historical and technological contexts.

 

Not only is the Electoral College a bad system, it is, more importantly, an undemocratic system let alone an obsolete one. It is a shame that a country that pretends to be the leader of the free world would adopt such a system to elect its presidents.

 

The Electoral College is a bad system for the following reasons:

 

1. The people who did NOT vote for the candidate are automatically credited to the candidate that had the most votes in a given state. For instance, a candidate who received ONLY 51% of the votes, will automatically get the other 49% on the basis of winner-take-all. How can that be qualified as democratic?

 

2. The Electoral College discourages people from voting. For instance, Texas is a red state and no matter what (assuming that the Republican candidate received the majority or even the plurality of the votes), 100% percent of the votes will go to the Republican candidate. What incentive does a lazy Republican or Democrat have to go to vote, if he is sure that the state will fall in the Republican column whether he votes or not?

 

3. As a corollary, not only does the Electoral College kill the incentive to go to vote, because the blue and red states are already known, but it also affects the Popular Vote. If the voter knows that his vote will count, whether his sate is red or blue, he will go to vote. However, he might not vote if he knows that his vote will not count, or worse if his vote will go to the candidate he opposes. The bottom line is this: the Popular Vote is suppressed in such a system and we end up not knowing if the president is as popular as the Electoral College wants us to think.

 

4. The Electoral College discourages the candidates from campaigning in all 50 states. Why would the candidate, Democrat or Republican, bother to campaign in California or Texas if he knows that the outcome is already known. On the other hand, he will want to campaign in all 50 states if he knows that every vote counts. This is can only be true if the Popular Vote is adopted.

 

 

Let's take as an example, the 1984 Reagan vs. Mondale election.

 

Reagan won 49 states and 525 or 97.6% of the electoral votes;

Mondale won 1 state and 13 or 2.4% of the electoral votes.

 

This was characterized as a landslide and it is, on the basis of Electoral College numbers. In fact, according to the Popular Vote, Reagan won only 58.8% of the votes and Mondale won 40.6% percent of the votes. Yes, Reagan won decisively, but in no way this can be characterized as a landslide.

 

The 97.6% electoral votes that Reagan received give the impression that the overwhelming majority of the American people voted for him while in fact only 58.8% did. The 2.4% of the electoral votes won by Mondale pales in comparison to the 40.6% of the popular votes he won. The bottom line is that the Electoral College doesn't reflect how the electorate, the American people as a whole, voted. What must count in an election is how the people voted, not geography, i.e., the states.

 

The Electoral College disguises the reality and deceives. In my opinion, it is not democratic and gives the wrong impression about the elections. Why the politicians and those who support them want to keep this comedy is regrettable for a country like ours that champions the idea of democracy. What is really deplorable is if the winner of the Electoral College loses the Popular Vote. It happened twice, recently. In 2000, Gore won the Popular Vote against Bush and lost the election, so is Hillary in 2016 against Trump.

 

Medhat Credi

November 2017