Column: Electoral College has Stood the Test of Time

Christian Lohrenz ® Columnist |

The electoral college, while much debated, had been a key piece of American elections since the ratification of the constitution. The basic principle seems to inherently be a staple of a solid democracy, with each state getting one vote for each Senate seat and then one for each member in the House of Representatives. 

This seems to be a way of keeping smaller states represented, as was the goal of the initial Continental Congress when the decision was made. I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called “Whose Vote Counts?” The documentary, part of Vox’s “Explained” series, discusses some of the reasons there is opposition to this system. 

One primary objection is that it may indeed overrepresent rural states, thus making it possible for a president to be elected even after losing the popular vote. While the left experienced this phenomenon in 2016, it seems there is a growing push on that side to either abolish or amend this system to avoid this from happening again. The outcome of an individual winning election while losing the popular vote seems to dictate that perhaps the “popular will” of the American people may be able to be overlooked.  

Another key piece in the imbalance of the electoral college and the imbalance in Congress has been the process of gerrymandering. If you aren’t familiar, gerrymandering is basically the process of drawing district lines to better elect people from their own party. 

What that means is that every 10 years, the party in power looks at a state and decides where certain districts, and the people in those districts, will be. This process is beneficial for whichever party is in power.  

Both parties have benefitted from this process over the course of history. In the beginning of the 90’s there were more states in the south that had districts gerrymandered to benefit the Democrats. Since then, however, Republicans have shifted those seats back to the Republican party to guarantee them more seats.  

There have been several propositions to try to fix both gerrymandering and the electoral college. One proposition is for intendent agencies to do the redistricting every 10 years to take power out of the parties’ hands. 

This would be helpful for the house, despite the fact that, inevitably, people are essentially gerrymandering themselves. Cities have over the course of the last 20 years been predominantly liberal, while rural counties tend to fall in the category of more conservative.  

All this in mind, the electoral college passed the test of time. It definitely has flaws worthy of discussion. It will be interesting to see if, after districts are redrawn over the next few years (being that we are at a new decade) things change, or if there will be more of the same.

Header photo: Temporary election worker Joseph Banar, center, disinfects voting stations as a precaution against the coronavirus while a steady stream of voters participates in the first day of balloting in New Mexico, at the Santa Fe Convention Center on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

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