Not all votes are created equal: the Electoral College’s built-in bias

by Jewel Merriman (’22) | November 16, 2020

Photo by Hannah Morrisroe (’23)

One person should equal one vote. Sounds simple, right? Especially since an inherent feature of democracy is to reflect the will of the masses. However, our president is determined by the electoral college, which is an outdated system that heavily favors one party and gives individuals more voting power based on where they live. 

The electoral college was established in the 18th century so that electoral representatives with the necessary information about a candidate would vote, rather than the uneducated voters in a state. However, with the advanced technology and education that we have today, voters have the resources to make informed decisions in elections for themselves. 

The electoral college was also established to allow smaller states with smaller populations more influence so that presidential candidates would have to address them, rather than only appealing to larger states with larger populations. But the electoral college doesn’t change this tendency. Through urbanization, the disparities in population density increase within individual states. Presidential candidates still focus on regions with higher population density because that’s where they can reach the most voters. It makes sense. Even if you live in a small state, presidential candidates only focus on larger cities within your state because that is where the votes are. 

Another problem with the electoral college is that it creates a system in which the president is selected based on the votes of a few select states. These swing states are where presidential candidates focus their campaign; the electoral college only shifts the natural order of regions where candidates center their attention. If the electoral college were abolished in favor of a popular vote system, the concept of a swing state would cease to exist. Without the electoral college, the state you live in would have no impact on how much your vote is worth. Every individual’s vote would have the same value and there would be a diverse field of swing voters all over the country. 

This is the unique scenario in which presidential candidates would be forced to address and focus on everyone’s personal needs, despite the state a person lives in, which is the whole point of the electoral college in the first place: to “level out the playing field.” But how is the current condition that a Wyoming voter is worth 3.6 times more than a California voter “leveling out the playing field”? Plus, if the president was truly determined from the will of the masses, every president since 2004 would have been from the Democratic Party, which shows the electoral college’s bias. 

On top of all these issues, the electoral college also allows presidents to completely write off an entire state because they know they can’t win it in the next election. For example, the Trump administration originally rejected California’s request for a disaster declaration for six destructive wildfires, including one that grew to be the single largest fire in California history. Trump did not have to try to accommodate the needs of California because he knew it is a blue state. This is exactly what the electoral college was created to avoid, but it instead only amplified the problem. The electoral college has no place in modern society and needs to be abolished. At the end of the day, it should be the people who vote, not the land.

Categories: Opinions

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