The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. For the last 100 years, the presidential candidate who won the most popular votes won the election, but the last election was different. [i] The candidate who won the presidency in the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush, actually received fewer popular votes than the losing candidate, Al Gore. This raises some interesting questions: is the process by which Americans currently elect presidents democratic? If all Americans are equal, should not one American equal one vote? Does the Electoral College work, even though it disproportionably represents the votes of some Americans, or should we switch to a direct voting system?
There is some support for keeping the current system. One benefit is that generally, the Electoral College adds legitimacy to the winner of the popular vote by exaggerating the margin of the victory. For example, the Electoral College made it look as if John F. Kennedy was the clear winner of the 1960 presidential election. He received 303 electoral votes, while his opponent, Richard Nixon, received only 219 electoral votes.i The popular vote, on the other hand, was much closer: John F. Kennedy received 49.72% of the popular vote, while Richard Nixon received 49.55% of the popular vote.[ii] However, the winner of the most popular votes is not always the winner of the Electoral College. There have been four cases, one being the last election, where the winner of the most popular votes lost the presidency.
Another conceivable benefit of the Electoral College is that it can lessen the negative effects of third-party candidates who have no chance of winning. In order to win the presidency...
... middle of paper ...
...h a greater share of the population. To argue that the Electoral College is undemocratic or not American is not far from arguing that the distribution of power in our nation's legislature is undemocratic and needs reform. The Electoral College is nothing more than a combination of two essential components of our democracy. The Electoral College strikes a delicate balance between the rights of the minority and the majority so that all voices are heard.
[i] Tight election puts Electoral College under microscope
[ii] 1960 Election Results
[iii] 1992 Election Results/1996 Election Results
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