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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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In defense of the electoral college

Photo by Graphic by Gabrielle Shreve

For multiple days the states of Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania had votes still being counted before a winner of the presidential election could be projected.

In recent decades, the electoral college has been the topic of much debate in this country, as many members of the Democratic Party seek to end this way of carrying out elections. Republicans have countered this with a strong defense of the current election system. This system has decided every presidential election in United States history, with the exception of the election of 1824. Personally, I agree with the Republicans on this crucial issue, due to the fact that I see no substantial argument against the electoral college.

One of the many things outlined in our Constitution is how the president is to be chosen. After much debate, the Founding Fathers came up with an interesting compromise. It was decided an electoral college would be created, in which each state would choose a number of electors who would ultimately choose the president. Today, in a majority of states, if a candidate wins statewide then all the delegates in that state go to the candidate. 

Although not specifically laid out in the Constitution, states can choose how they want to divide the individual delegates, but most choose to do it in this manner. The number of delegates in each state is equal to the state’s congressional delegation — the number of their representatives in the House plus their number of Senators. 

Over the past few decades, many members of the Democratic Party have amassed a multitude of reasons for abolishing the electoral college. Chief among these reasons is that the electoral college itself is undemocratic because it does not value each individual vote in the same way. Now, I actually agree with this assertion of the electoral college being undemocratic, because it is. The system was not designed to be inherently democratic, since this is exactly what the Founding Fathers were afraid of. The Founding Fathers in their wisdom knew a pure democracy would eventually lead to mob rule. To understand this concept I have an example to lay out. 

Let’s say a country has 51 percent of its population living in a big city and 49 percent of its population living in the rural countryside. In the rural part of the country, there is a big lake which supplies water to all the people in the countryside. This water is vital to the people living in the countryside. Say one day the government proposes to drain the lake to build a highway. The 51 percent of citizens living in the city vote yes to this proposal, severely hurting the livelihood of the rural people. This function of democracy is exactly what the Founding Fathers feared when they created the electoral college. They wanted to preserve a sense of freedom for all Americans, whether they lived on a farm or in a big city. The electoral college fixes the problem of big population centers having all the weight in elections by giving the rural states a more equal footing in elections. This means the candidates must focus on all the states in the country and not just appeal to big cities like New York or Houston. 

Another reason brought up for abolishing the electoral college is that the system is outdated. This argument generally states the electoral college was made during a time when we as a country did not have near instantaneous communication to each other. Therefore, the practice of sending electors to vote on our behalf is now outdated. Now this argument does have some merit, as it can seem odd having to trust people to vote for the candidate that “my” state chose. Even so, this problem can easily be solved by updating the system, making it to where these various electors cannot become faithless electors

Personally, the biggest reason why I believe many in the Democratic Party have pushed for abolishing the electoral college is that it could ensure them greater odds of winning presidential elections. This follows the Democrats winning the popular vote in every election since 2008. In the 2008 and 2012 general elections, the Democrats won the electoral college, making the popular vote meaningless to them. However, the real problem occurred for them in 2016, when President Trump defeated Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In this election, although Trump won the electoral college, Clinton won the popular vote. This led many Democrats to push for the abolishment of the electoral college, which would have given victory to Hillary in 2016. 

Whatever you think about the current state of America, I think it is important we preserve what the Founding Fathers wanted for this country. It is undeniable that we have made many mistakes through the centuries, but this does not mean our founding principles are wrong. It is important to not push to get rid of a core symbol of our republic just to benefit one party in future elections. I have faith in the American people and hope more of us will realize the importance of the electoral college in the coming generations.

Bryce Robinson is a business administration sophomore and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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