What is the electoral college and how does it affect Americans? 

What is the electoral college and how does it affect Americans? 

Jordyn Bew, Entertainment Editor

During the 2016 presidential election, when Donald Trump lost the general election to Hillary Clinton by over 2.8 million votes and won the Electoral College by 74 votes, the controversy over the continued use of the Electoral College resurfaced.

There were four occasions in US history before the 2016 election where, despite losing the popular vote, a candidate won the presidency: 1824 (John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson), 1876 (Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden), 1888 (Benjamin Harrison over Grover Cleveland), and 2000 (George W. Bush over Al Gore). 

In 1788, Article II of the US Constitution established the Electoral College. It was a compromise  between the Founding Fathers to elect  the president by a vote in Congress only or by a popular vote only.

According to FairVote.org, at least 700 amendments have been proposed to modify or abolish the Electoral College which is more than any other topic of Constitutional reform.

In the United States, there are over 300 million people, but only 538 people decide who is going to be president. Even President Donald Trump, who benefited from the system, stated in a post-election interview with the show 60 Minutes that he thinks that presidents should be elected by popular vote. “I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win.” 

Heading into the 2020 presidential election, a Gaullup.com survey showed three in five Americans favor amending the U.S. Constitution to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system. 

Amending the Constitution needs the approval of two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the 50 states to abolish the Electoral College system in the U.S. There is little possibility that such an amendment will happen anytime soon, given the current division among parties on the subject. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an alternative initiative that does not include a constitutional amendment, is an arrangement between states to give all their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the overall popular vote. 15 states and the District of Columbia have embraced it, but it, too, is sharply politicized.

The United States is the world’s only developed democracy that does not use a direct, popular national voting system. It is quite ironic that the very mechanism in which the United States elects its representatives is ineffectively democratic for a state that continuously insists it is “representative of the people” and has emphasized the promotion of democracy worldwide. The United States should abolish the Electoral College to achieve, as the Constitution puts it, “a more perfect Union”.