In what are perhaps the most volatile of dinnertime conversation topics, politics and elections take to the forefront of our daily lives in major fashion once every four years. This is of course when many Americans head to the polls to cast their votes for who they want to see in the oval office. Months, in fact almost a year, of campaigning culminates on that Tuesday evening in November as the fate of a nation is decided. However few people fully understand just how that election process works. We have all heard of the electoral college but few of us fully understand it or its impact on our democratic process. This election process divides our nation into two parties and directly impacts everything from campaigning to voter turnout and can even affect the outcome of the election altogether.
How The Electoral College Came To Be
The process by which we elect our executive branch has been the same since the Constitution was ratified in 1787. Article II, Section I of the Constitution sets the framework for how a president is elected, or rather selected. As the Constitution states “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed;” (Constitution 1). This method of electing the President was decided upon as a compromise between large and small states and has stood as our electoral process ever since.
Benefits Of And Problems With The Electoral College
Though many believe that the electoral college is detrimental to American politics, myself included, there are still several benefits to this process of election. As the framers intended the electoral college to be, it is the ideal balance of decision power between congress and the people. Congress does not directly elect the president so as to keep the president from becoming to dependent on, and from being influenced by congress. Also the people do not directly elect the president thus avoiding the potential consequences of an irrational public hitting the polls. The electoral college also helps to keep candidates from campaigning solely in major cities as they would were the election based on popular vote. This however, is also a problem with the electoral college because this process draws the candidates to swing states with high electoral value, or more electoral votes. “Swing states are those states in which the outcome of vote is uncertain or close” (Law 1). These states get all of the attention of our candidates and leaves people in states that heavily support one party to fend for themselves. This anticipated state victory also leads to less interest in that state. The electoral college is detrimental to voter turnout for this reason and several others.
The Electoral College’s Impact On Campaigns...