The Electoral College is Partisan
Op-Ed by Kaleb Nichols
“I think it needs to be eliminated.” That was Hillary Clinton in mid-September 2017 in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, reflecting on the 2016 election and the flaws in the electoral college that allowed her controversial opponent to take office (Merica). Similarly, her running mate Tim Kaine mentioned the strangeness that a candidate can win the popular vote but still lose the election in his speech shortly after the results of the election were announced (ABC News).
The occasional upset in this system is to be expected, but 2016 brought up some serious questions about the way we elect our officials.
In 2000, candidate for the presidency Democrat Al Gore, lost a disputed election against opponent George W. Bush. Again, Al Gore won the popular vote, but lost 271-266 in the electoral college (“Historical Election Results”). Again, many questions were raised about the usefulness of the college in modern-day America.
In recent years, the word “gerrymandering” has been thrown around American politics. Gerrymandering is the process in which the state redraws electoral constituencies to purposefully favor a party or group. This is a serious allegation and is not confirmed, however these constituencies have been redrawn and in many cases have caused the majority vote to be negated. In a state with 60% Democrats and 40% Republicans, Republicans could achieve the advantage, and the states electoral votes could go to the minority party (Wheeler).
In the second half of the twentieth century, both Democrats and Republicans were united on the issue of abolishing the electoral college. In 1969, Richard Nixon supported a movement end the electoral college through Congress. Though this was partially due to the personal politics of Nixon and his scare during the presidential campaign of 1968, the movement was serious.
Nixon was running against two people: George V. Wallace (Independent) and Hubert Humphrey (Democrat). It was a close race between Nixon and Humphrey, and due to Wallace’s sudden fame in the South for saying, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever,” many were worried that Wallace would win enough electoral votes to cause a tie between the two party candidates and sending the vote to the House of Representatives. Wallace ended his campaign with 46 electoral votes, not enough to cause a tie, but enough to make people think seriously about the electoral college (Lee).
Nixon did not make the only effort to abolish the electoral college. Throughout America’s history, there have been 700 attempts to to either modify or abolish the electoral college (“FairVote”). The issue does not pertain to either party, as both Democrats and Republicans have proposed amendments regarding the college. Though the Republican party has been benefiting from the dysfunction of the system of late, they have constructed movements against it as recently as 2004.
Throughout American history, the electoral college has failed in ways big and small, and though useful in the past, is not the proper system now. The lack of accountability and nonpartisanship in American elections should be a pressing issue to every American. Fair and just elections have been a staple of America since the beginning, but the growing threat against it ought to have the international community on the edge of their seat. Fixing this issue is simple. Get rid of the electoral college. Allow the popular vote to decide the presidency. Allow the people to decide who should run our country, or at the very least, push the system to be changed from the “all or nothing” process to a system in which electoral votes are split in contested states so that the tally will accurately exemplify the vote of the people. Create a constitutional amendment.
This op-ed was submitted by a writer outside of the Warrior Word staff. If you are a writer, you can email your work to firstname.lastname@example.org for possible publication.
Merica, Dan. “Clinton: Abolish the Electoral College.” CNN, Cable News Network, 14 Sept. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/09/13/politics/hillary-clinton-anderson-cooper-electoral-college-cnntv/index.html.
“FairVote – Past Attempts at Reform.” The Electoral College – Controversial Elections, archive.fairvote.org/?page=979.
Lee, Kurtis. “In 1969, Democrats and Republicans United to Get Rid of the Electoral College. Here’s What Happened.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 19 Dec. 2016, www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-electoral-college-history-20161219-story.html.
Wheeler, Russell. “The Supreme Court and Partisan Gerrymandering Cases.” Brookings, Brookings, 28 Feb. 2018, www.brookings.edu/blog/unpacked/2018/02/28/the-supreme-court-and-partisan-gerrymandering-cases/.
ABCNews. “Full Event: Hillary Clinton FULL Concession Speech | Election 2016.” YouTube, YouTube, 9 Nov. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSPBjOnHTaM.
“Historical Election Results.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/scores2.html.