During the 2012 elections in the United States, the term “Electoral College” made headlines. If you haven’t heard or don’t know much about it yet, as a voter and an American citizen, it is important to know what it is and how it affects your community.
The term Electoral College refers to a process, not a place or school. It involves the selection of electors, voting for the President and Vice-President of the US and counting of the electoral votes by Congress. To elect the President, it is required to reach 270 electoral votes.
There are 538 voters who will cast votes and decide who the president and vice-president of the US will be. The total number of electors is the sum of the country’s 435 Representatives, 100 Senators and 3 electors from the District of Columbia.
How Are Electors Selected?
Generally, electors are chosen by every Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates’ political party. This means that every candidate running for the highest government office get his or her group of electors. This does not hold true for all states though.
How Does the Electoral College Work?
Voters go to the polls and choose a candidate for President and Vice-President every four years. In every state, whichever candidate wins the majority of votes in a state wins that state’s electoral votes. But Nebraska and Maine are exempted to this rule – the top candidate in both states gets two electoral votes (for the two Senators) whereas the remaining electoral votes will be allocated congressional district by congressional district.
After the election, every state’s governor will prepare a “Certificate of Ascertainment”, a list of all the candidates who ran for President as well as names of their respective electors. The said certificate will also declare the winning presidential candidate in every state and determine the electors who will represent the state at the meeting of the electors. Once everything is recorded, the Certificate of Ascertainment will then be sent to Congress and the National Archives as this is a part of the official records of every presidential election.
Given all that information, you might be wondering what makes the electoral advantageous and what could its disadvantages to society be.
List of Advantages of the Electoral College
1. It protects the interests of the minority.
The Electoral College preserves the voice of minority groups, especially states with lower populations and more rural areas. This means that having electors saves the interests of farmers and other professions that do not belong to the corporate world. Additionally, with the Electoral College, states that are not considered competitive and are basically ignored by candidates will have a voice. Candidates will have to go to every state so the people will have the opportunity to meet them and ask significant questions, allowing them to make informed decisions come election time.
2. It promotes the two-party system.
Political activists may not agree with the two-party system, but with only two political parties, there is more stability in each state and the rest of the country. This is because having few political groups helps the federal government focus on generalized platforms, not specific issues only.
3. It gives the winning candidate the majority of the votes.
In the 1992 polls, Bill Clinton only got around 42 percent of the vote, but with Ross Perot’s influence, he won the majority of the electoral college.
4. It precludes the possibility of a recount across the entire United States.
The nightmare of a recount for the entire nation is beyond imaginable. But with the electoral college, this can be avoided because recounting can be done on one state. Fraud and abuse would also be compounded because the electoral system ensures undisputed outcomes. How, you might ask. The electoral college is a state-by-state winner-take-all system, which ensures that any dispute in the counting would be an isolated case in particular states.
5. It gives all candidates a chance for considerable success.
Even if a candidate has a lower percentage of popular vote, he can still win in the electoral college. As a result, there is great consensus impression, which is a requirement for subsequent governing.
List of Disadvantages of the Electoral College
1. It tarnishes democracy.
With the Electoral College, the candidate who wins by popular vote is nullified. Additionally, such system can over represent minority states, giving voters in an unfair advantage. As a result, democracy suffers because it provides the notion that all votes are not equally important.
2. It isolates people from the rest of the country.
This is because the popular vote isn’t considered valid. This makes people feel that they didn’t have a say on the selection of the president. This forces some of the citizens to not participate in the elections.
3. It could produce a president whom the majority of Americans do not exactly fancy.
This is because the principle of the Electoral College undermines the popular vote. Smaller states will have a larger percentage of electoral vote because the minimum number of Electoral College votes for every state is three.
4. It allows the presidential election to be decided by the House of Representatives.
Again, this makes people feel as if their votes are not deemed important. This is what will happen when there is no majority of votes during the election.
5. It is complicated and discourages people from voting.
Without Electoral College, getting the popular vote simply means a win. But with the electoral college, a candidate must get 270 votes from electors alone. This discourage people from participating in the polls
It is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of the Electoral College system to be able to weigh in on all options. This is because people have various insights and thus, different stands.
All in all, adapting the Electoral College has benefited the country in more ways than one. For one, it has allowed the President of the United States to have both popular support and electoral votes to govern effectively. And though it may have numerous disadvantages, these can be resolved and corrected to satisfy the people.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.