The 2016 election season is one that will go down in history due to its controversy and drama, with the results of the election being perhaps the most contentious part. While Trump has become President-elect, Clinton’s lead in the popular vote has now reached close to two million votes. For this reason, many people in the U.S. have become disillusioned with the electoral college, saying it is outdated and inequitable, and therefore should be abolished. However, if the U.S. is to remain a democracy with equal representation for every state, the electoral college must remain intact.
The electoral college was created during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as a means of reconciling differing interests at the state and federal level, while also granting more representation to states with lower populations. The number of electors granted to each state is equal to the number of congress members each state has—one for each representative plus two for the senators. After the citizens from each state vote, electors are expected to vote for a candidate based on the way citizens voted in their state. As such, most states have a “winner-take-all” system in which all electors from a given state vote for whomever the majority of the people in the state voted for. In order to give smaller states a say in the election, the electoral college works in such a way that people who live in states with low populations have more power with their vote. It may seem illogical to grant some individuals more voting power simply because their state has a lower population, but the idea is actually very practical and judicious.
For instance, California is home to almost 40 million people. Wyoming, meanwhile, has a population of just over half a million people. If every vote in the U.S. counted equally, California would have close to 80 times the voting power of Wyoming. In fact, California would have more voting power than the 22 states with the lowest populations combined. It is simply impossible that the needs and values of voters in California represent those of voters in the 22 states California overshadows. If Californians were given the same voting power as voters in the rest of the country, the only needs and values that would be represented would be those of Californians.
Furthermore, if more populated states had most of the voting power, presidential candidates would alter their platforms to acknowledge the needs of only those states, completely ignoring issues that apply to people in states with lower populations. For instance, California has legalized marijuana and will likely pursue federal legalization, which is an idea Utah strongly opposes. If each person in the U.S. has the same voting power and California has more than ten times the number of people as Utah, any candidate that supported the legalization of marijuana would receive far more support. Therefore, all candidates would support the same ideas as those of people in large states, leaving states with lower populations entirely unrepresented. The electoral college is essential if small states are to have any control over who becomes the nation’s leader.
With any country as large and diverse as the U.S., it is extremely unlikely that the entire nation will ever have the same issues and concerns. If somehow communication and technology reaches the point where all people in the U.S. care about the same issues, then the electoral college will no longer be necessary. For now, despite the current frustration felt by people who believe it to be unjust, the electoral college is the best option. It’s true—more people in the U.S. voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. But with that said, voters decided Trump better represents more of the country than Clinton. While it seems as though the popular vote would determine the country’s leaders more democratically, the electoral college ensures that all states have a voice, which is of extreme importance in any democracy.