When election season rolls around, and millions of Americans are heading to polls to cast votes, it would surprise many that America’s voting system is not held like class president. Meaning, there is no popular vote. It’s all through the electoral college. At first, it may seem like popular vote is what makes most sense. But, when you’re dealing with an entire country with different coastal regions instead of a school, it’s a bit more complicated.
Let’s go back down history to the origin of the system. In 1778, the Founding Fathers had many heated debates about the most efficient way to elect the president. Some said popular vote, some said congress should pick, but their ultimate solution is the very one we still hold today. That’s because the Electoral college is actually in the constitution, and would take forever to legitimately change. So, keep that in mind.
The way it works is that when you fill out your ballot, you’re voting for who your state is going to vote for; republican or democrat. A state that votes for a republican candidate in an election is considered to be red, and if democrat, then blue. Some states are reliably red or blue, and some are swing. For example, Texas and Alabama have voted republican for the last four elections straight, just as California did democrat. Florida on the other hand, has been split, with two years red and two years blue. That’s why the presidential candidates are so focused on those swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, etc., because they are appealing to the voters that can be the tie breaker, depending on which party they choose that election. In the 2016 election, Trump visited Texas once to speak, while Hillary visited California zero times. They rely on these states to vote for their party, so there is no need to pay too much attention to them during their campaign. Each state gets a certain number of electoral votes, depending on the population. Texas has 38 electoral votes, and California has 53. Delaware and Maine have 3. Notice how the number of votes is dependent on the population.
Why is our system for electing the president such a mouthful, instead of just the popular vote? Well, both parties have thought the same exact thing, even went so far to try and appeal it. The main reason the U.S doesn’t actually go through with it, is because it takes a great number of steps to change the constitution, and the government decided that the number of states that benefit from the electoral college are far too many to completely get rid of it.
For example, since the population of some obviously outweigh the other states, the popular vote would only appeal to the interests of those in the most populous states. The opinions of smaller states would be neglected, so through the electoral votes these states have representation.
In five instances, the candidate with the popular votes has lost the election to the candidate with the most electoral votes.
The dilemma with our citizens has been; is that a situation that should be fully lawful?