If you’re anything like me, Donald Trump’s election in 2016 got you way more invested in U.S. politics. I had my eye on the news constantly after the election, mostly because I wanted a little warning before the bombs started dropping.
I’m not as pessimistic now. Actually watching the news instead of relying on hearsay has definitely served to educate me. I kind of have President Trump to thank for that.
In fact, I’d say the United States has President Trump to thank for most of my generation’s interest in politics today. The last three years have been kind of like a trainwreck – we didn’t really want to watch, but we couldn’t look away.
So, if you are like me, and you’re eager to educate yourself on the matters that matter, then you may want to know a little bit more about a topic everyone seems to be talking about right now – the Electoral College.
You’ve heard all about it every time a presidential election came around since you can remember hearing things. Everyone’s got their beef with the Electoral College, and most of us agree that it isn’t perfect. Most states award all of their electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote. This pretty much started because bigger states realized they could just bundle all of their votes together to swing elections, and smaller states had to follow suit to avoid being ignored altogether (they still basically are).
So, why is this a problem? Imagine the U.S. only had two states – State A with 15 electoral votes, and State B with 10. Let’s say that 8 of the 15 districts in State A voted red, and the other 7 voted blue. That State will award all 15 of its electoral votes to the red candidate. Now, let’s say all 10 districts of State B voted blue. Obviously, State B will award all 10 of its electoral votes to the blue candidate.
Are you beginning to see the problem? In this scenario, the blue candidate would have won 17 districts out of 25, but the red candidate would have won the election 15-10. Obviously, such large disparities between the results of the popular vote and the electoral vote don’t really happen, or we’d probably have a revolution on our hands. But the fact of the matter is that the mechanism for such a thing to happen is currently in place.
A few different ideas have been thrown out there to fix this problem. Some people want to award votes by congressional district. Others want every state to commit to putting their votes toward the national popular vote. Some, like Elizabeth Warren, want to get rid of the electoral college altogether.
Personally, I think it’s unrealistic to think you can just get rid of the electoral college. I think it’s a sugar-sweet campaign promise, but I think it’ll pretty much amount to a border wall.
I think a better solution is to make it mandatory for each congressional district to vote in accordance with the popular vote in that district. That would essentially mean that every state gets two votes (one for each Senator seat) and every congressional district gets one vote.
Better still would be to get rid of the Senate-seat votes altogether (thereby reducing each State’s total number of votes by two) and to have only one vote per congressional district. All congressional districts have approximately the same number of citizens, meaning this is about as close as we can get to a fair vote where everyone’s voice is truly equal.