The Electoral College, America’s Unsung Guardian


Lakhsmi Chatterjee

“It seems that the Electoral College will dissolve itself out, as the people come to see its failures to our democracy,” said Ezra Beede ’17.

It’s common to forget about something that helps us, when it is successful in doing so. For instance, we disregard the good work that custodians do in this school to keep our school environment clean. It is just as easy, and far more common, to forget about the great deal of benefits that the electoral college gives to our nation. “The Electoral college is shamefully taken for granted. Most people barely know what it does let alone the many benefits it brings us,” said Maxwell Anavian ’18.

We cannot know the true political climate of the newly-founded United states in 1776, but one thing that is certain is that those who founded this nation knew that which threatens our republic, wherever and whenever.

With mob rule being such a prevalent threat, how do we combat it? The answer is simple: the Electoral College. The Electoral College may seem like a corrupt institution to some, but in reality, it has protected our elections from demagogues and radicals for centuries. The Electoral College provides our country with the ability to fairly represent every part of America’s vote, without having the cities or more dense regions dominate each vote. “What people commonly misunderstand is that we are in fact not a true democracy, but a republic, and therefore do not follow the rules and confines of a democracy.” said Maximo Martinez ’17.

In recent years, the Electoral College and popular vote have come into conflict, particularly during the most recent election. “It seems that the Electoral College will dissolve itself out, as the people come to see its failures to our democracy,” said Ezra Beede ’17, who blames political apathy for allowing the institution to exist. This sentiment is a common one held by those in support of a one person, one vote system; also known as popular vote or direct democracy. However, it should be noted that although the popular vote seems like a good determiner of each election, in reality it has become a flawed statistic over the last few decades. According to CNN, In the last election, only 58% of the nation voted. This left a substantial portion of the country unrepresented in the election. Furthermore, if the vote was one person, one vote, the alternative to our current system, urban areas, which make up the majority of the country’s population, would be the main target for election cycles, as they hold the most people. Already this discredits the rural United States, as their votes would be irrelevant. However, candidates would only need to win the biggest cities, creating the same problems that we have now with swing states, only with our largest and richest cities, which would become battlegrounds. If we strive for a more democratic system, leaving to the wayside a sizable minority of the population does not only not accomplish that, but counteracts that notion.  

We cannot know the true political climate of the newly-founded United states in 1776.

With the unchanging nature of the Electoral College, one would be inclined to inquire why the institution has been the target of some much ire. The answer to that is quite simple; people are sore losers. With the misinformation spread about the popular vote, it is no wonder so many people have flocked to blame the Electoral College for their candidate’s loss, and why it has been thrust into the spotlight in the last few months.

With all that the Electoral College does, are there any detriments to it? While the Electoral College is a fine institution, reform and modernization are always necessary when it comes to sections of our government. “The Electoral College has is indeed very necessary; however, it does require large scale reform in order to work in a modern environment,” said Ann Garbowski ’18. The idea of reforming the Electoral College is a more moderate take on disapproval of it, and does bring to light actual issues with the system. The most common issue brought in contention with the College is that of faithless electors, which is when an elector votes against the vote of the state. One such reform could be the restriction and prohibition of the clause that allows for faithless electors, requiring electors to vote how the state votes. While faithless electors are quite rare in terms of widespread elections, it is still an issue that can be removed with moderate reform.

When it comes to the Electoral College, it’s is easy to take it for granted. And while it has its setbacks, reforming the institution and having a positive outlook of change are far better than a swift and careless dismantling of it. We need the Electoral College, and it is our duty to make sure that it works for us.