Stephen Schwalbe, American Public University – Should The Electoral College Be Abolished?

aaeaaqaaaaaaaavuaaaajdiwzjkznte1lwm4mdgtngiwzi1inweyltm2ytk0yzzmmdeynqShould the Electoral College be abolished?

Stephen Schwalbe, Program Director of Political Science at American Public University, details why that might not be the best course of action.

Dr. Schwalbe, Program Director of Political Science at American Public University, retired from the Air Force in 2007 as a colonel after 30 years of active duty service. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the Air Force Academy; a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Golden Gate University; a Master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School; a Master’s degree from the Naval War College; and, a PhD from Auburn University in Public Policy.

Should The Electoral College Be Abolished?

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Today’s popular vote in a presidential election can be tallied quickly and easily.  As such, many people wonder why the Electoral College is not abolished. Critics cite bias towards smaller states, the power of the two-party system, and failure to protect the democratic principle of popular sovereignty. 

However, complete abolishment of the College would necessitate a constitutional amendment,  requiring approval by two-thirds of both chambers of Congress and three-fourths ratification by state legislatures. In the College, when a candidate does not win by at least 270 electoral votes, as in the election of 1800, then the House selects the president, and the Senate, the vice president. 

The electors in each state equal the number of representatives that state has in Congress, resulting in at least three electors per state, regardless of population.  The Constitution states the guidelines for electors in casting their vote for president and vice president. 

However, not all electoral votes are equal.  According to the 2000 census, in California, with  over 33 million residents, one electoral vote represents around 600,000 residents.  in contrast, in Wyoming, with less than half a million, one electoral vote represents just over 150,000 people.  This means the votes of some citizens carry more weight than those of others, violating the concept of equal representation. 

One significant problem with eliminating the College is that a popular vote would encourage candidates to campaign only in the more populous areas.  More than half of Americans live in only nine states, while 25 of the least populated states comprise less than a sixth of the total population. This would truly not represent the will of the American people.

The College evenly distributes the candidates’ focus on both majority and minority interests nationwide, while contributing to national cohesiveness by requiring all voters to unite in electing the candidate who best represents their collective interests.

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