The Need for Electoral College Reform
During the horse-and-buggy era of 1789, travel to neighboring states was nearly impossible. A distance of even forty miles could require hours. Therefore journeys to non-bordering states were an extremely rare occurrence. These obstacles and the lack of communication between voters in one state and candidates in another was the constitutional framers’ main impetus for instituting an electoral college for presidential elections. This system ideally elects the most qualified candidate as deemed by educated voters: persons designated to keep abreast of current social issues and activities of political office holders and seekers. These specially selected voters would be chosen according to the will of the people. From the eighteenth (18th) century to today, this is how we elect our president.
Known as the melting pot, the United States’ diverse constituents reflect the diversity of the states themselves and elucidate the complications of change on a national level to this system. Direct election would be one option but it’s major disadvantage is that candidates may ignore smaller states because their campaign stops’ value is proportional to the concentration of people there. The electoral college, then, can be seen as a compromise between large and small states very much like the “Great Compromise” which gave smaller states equal representation in the Senate and larger (i.e. more populous) states representation by population in the House.
Third parties were another concern of the framers because they could eliminate a potential candidate if numerous third party candidates attracted even minimal votes such as those from people’s hometowns. This invite to corruption was discerned by the framers and ameliorated by the electoral college because scandals’ effects were limited to the potential votes in one state. In order to dispose of a candidate, similar operations must be executed in multiple states which is much more difficult to perform without raising awareness.
The framers’ fears were sensible and valid during that time. However, today in the computer age and the era of instant information their validity has diminished. While the basic principles of democracy remain steadfast, the methods are overdue for revision. We are at the dawn of the twenty first (21st ) century and times have changed. But that is how life is: times change. In fact, the people who implemented the electoral college are the same people who decided that slaves would only count as 3/5 of a person!
Perhaps it is the system’s reluctance to change that has produced the disappointing turnouts at the polls (a 20% decrease in turnout in the past forty years). Surveys consistently show that often an overwhelming majority favors change in the electoral college, yet it has continued in virtually the same manner for over two hundred years. Why isn’t America listening to its people? At the same time, polls show that 82% of Americans...