‘The electoral college should be replaced by a national popular vote.’ Discuss. (45 marks)
The Electoral College is a political institution that every 4 years is indirectly given the task of electing the president and vice-president of the United States of America into power. The idea behind the Electoral College is that it would give power to people that know politics so that they can make an informed decision on who should be president. This institution is a staple of the US constitution, and is something the Framers wrote about in great detail. However, in recent times this system has come under scrutiny and there are now many arguments that suggest the Electoral College (EC) should be scrapped and replaced by a national popular vote. One of the biggest problems with the Electoral College is that under the system you don’t need a majority of the national popular vote to win the election; in fact there have been cases, such as the 2000 election where the winner of the election did not even win the popular vote. In the 2000 election, George W. Bush faced off against Al Gore- the incumbent Vice-President. Throughout the election campaign the polls were coming up close- and the result was that indeed. Gore got 48.4% of the popular vote (50,999,897), whereas Bush lost on the popular vote as he only received 47.9% (50,456,002). However, Bush won in the Electoral College and therefore won the election. Bush received 271 EC votes compared to Gore’s 267. This result had even more controversy surrounding it as it all came down to the swing state Florida, there were a number of votes which had a ‘hanging Chad’ and were deemed by the Supreme Court to be ruled out as counted votes. This ruling meant that Bush won Florida, and the election. Since then there has been much call for change to the electoral system as Bush was able to become president without actually winning the national popular vote. This means that there were more people in the country that wanted Gore to be president than Bush and therefore Bush’s whole first term lacked legitimacy. We can also see this in a number of other elections where a president has not had even a simple majority but still took the presidency. In 1992 Bill Clinton only received 43% of the popular vote, and with voter turnout at only 55%, this meant that he won the presidency with not even 25% of the countries approval, which makes it very illegitimate. The US constitution is what the whole federal government is built upon, and the concept of the Electoral College is something that is a huge part of that. The idea of the Electoral College is that it allows the system to be democratic, while at the same time it stops mob rule and giving all the power to the majority. It is a key part of the US constitution and it is something that makes it unique! The Electoral College is discussed several times in the constitution- Article 2, Section 1 and the 12th amendment. Through this, we can see that it is a huge part of the entire system and the presidential process, and therefore there is a big argument in favour of keeping it. There is a sense that by removing the Electoral College vote then you would be drastically altering the constitution, something that the US is very un-keen on doing. Under the winner takes all method applied in 48 of the 50 seats, it becomes easier to win the Electoral College votes for that state. This is because you only need to beat the person in second place and this can mean that you only end up winning by a very small margin. You could win a state like California- a state with a population more than 30 million by a few hundred votes; you would win all of the Electoral College votes. An example of this would be in the 2012 where Obama won the state of Florida by getting 49.9% of the vote, however this was only 0.88% more than Romney got. Romney received over 49% of the popular vote, equally over 4 million votes, and lost by less than 1%, however,...
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