US Electoral College called into question in rare outcome

The people have spoken and Donald Trump will be our next president. He won the election with 306 electoral votes surpassing the 270 electoral votes needed to win the job of commander in chief. Despite Hillary Clinton beating him in the popular vote by over 1.5 million votes, Trump will still win because of the Electoral College. This has only occurred four times in our history. The most recent occurrence was in the year of 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 540,000 votes, but lost the election to George Bush who won the Electoral College with 271 votes over Gore’s 266.

With elections like these where the candidate wins the Electoral College but doesn’t win the popular vote, many people question if the voting system is truly fair.

“I don’t think it is unfair in our country that a candidate can lose the presidency, but still win the popular vote. The United States is not a direct democracy and our founding fathers went to great lengths to create a Constitutional Representative Republic. The Electoral College serves to represent the states majority view,” Liam Mamikunian, a business administration major who voted for Trump in the election said

When casting a vote for president, the people are not casting a vote for the national election, rather for a state election where then the electors who are appointed by the state vow to support the candidate the people have voted for.

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

With the outcome of the most recent election, many people are questioning if our country should stop using the electoral college and use the popular vote to determine the president.

“I do think we should keep the electoral vote because it nullifies big populated places like New York or California from determining the president. Also, some people that vote really don’t do any research, so it kind of nullifies that too,” Sagar Patel, a biological sciences major who voted for Clinton in the election said.

There are some major arguments that are for and against the Electoral College. The electoral college gives smaller states a voice and allows the nation to be represented accurately. Without the Electoral College, larger states could have too much influence in the election process. The Electoral College also helps simplify the election. A recount for the whole nation would be complicated and disastrous, and would increase the likelihood of fraud.

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“With the electoral vote, it’s easier because if one state is one side or the other, those shares of the total electoral votes go towards that candidate. It’s a cleaner, more effective way and it’s faster,” Brianna Baldwin, a criminal justice major who voted for Trump in the election said

The process can be confusing and some feel discouraged about voting. When candidates know that certain states have a bigger impact on the general election, candidates tend to focus their time more on these “swing” states and not on other “safe” states. Many votes essentially go to waste in states where candidates are guaranteed to win. For example, in New York, Clinton could win by 5 million votes or 10,000 votes but, in the end, would still win the 29 electoral votes and how much she won by wouldn’t essentially matter. The biggest argument against the Electoral College is that the person with the most overall votes is not guaranteed to win.

For at least the next four years, people will be talking about how Trump won the electoral vote but not the popular vote. Many people want to stop using the Electoral College. 10 states including California, New York and the District of Columbia have agreed to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement among the states to give their electoral votes to the whichever candidate won the popular vote. The agreement would go into effect once the states in the pact had a majority of the electoral votes, which would be 270. Right now, the 10 states and the district of Columbia that make up the pact have a combined electoral vote count of 165.