Web

Our current electoral system is broken, and if the U.S. wants to uphold a stable democracy, we need to fix it.

The electoral college is the system that decides the ultimate winner of the presidential election based on each state's popular vote. If a candidate wins a majority of the popular votes in a state in November, they win all the electoral votes in that state decided by their party's electors in December. Electors are chosen and nominated through a variety of factors by the parties during the election year and are usually elected officials loyal to said party.

Election 2020 released a video on Oct. 27 asking LMU students on campus what they knew about the electoral college.

"I know that there's a lot of controversy surrounding the electoral college," said Zika Lonner, a sophomore theater arts major. "Because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and Donald Trump still won the vote in the electoral college."

What many take issue with regarding the electoral college is the idea of it being non-representative. Electors aren't forced to vote for any particular candidate, citizens don't have a direct say in how their president is decided and most importantly, the victor of the electoral vote does not always match up with the victor of popular vote.

Take the most recent general election. The top four parties in the 2016 U.S. election in decreasing order of the number of votes for their presidential nominee were the Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Greens. Respectively, the candidates won 48.18%, 46.09%, 3.28% and 1.07% of the popular vote.

Under the electoral college, the winner of the presidential election ended up winning without even a plurality of the vote. Republican candidate Donald Trump secured the White House against the wishes of 53.91% of voters.

The easiest fix for this system would be to simply forgo the electoral college and have an admittedly flawed first-past-the-post electoral system where the candidate with the most votes wins. In 2016, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would have won the presidency with 48.18% of the vote.

However, while this would guarantee a victory for the candidate that won a plurality of votes, it still creates a minority-rule scenario where a majority of voters (51.82%) vote against the winner. It would still discourage third-party voting, since any vote for a smaller party would be a vote against the largest party with ideologically similar values rather than serve as a voice on its own.

A better solution might be to model other countries' electoral systems that encourage multi-party participation, such as ranked-choice voting or instant-runoff voting (the former is an idea that's recently been floated around in Maine) that could at least have third-party votes count toward like-minded larger candidates.

Let's not forget voter engagement! While the 2018 midterms are reason to be excited about higher voter turnout, the United States still lags behind other countries like Israel, France, Mexico and Hungary when it comes to the most recent general election, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

One way we could improve voter turnout would be to follow in the steps of Australia and Belgium, and previously Chile, and have compulsory voting, essentially making not voting illegal. Not only is voting turnout higher in Australia, voters' knowledge of important issues is also higher, according to The New York Times.

Getting rid of the electoral college is just one step toward democratic progress. We should be looking forward to any electoral reform in our upcoming local, state and national elections.

This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a sophomore environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email editor@theloyolan.com.

(1) comment

Man with the Axe

Why is it necessarily a good thing to increase voter turnout? How much do those voters, currently non-voters, know about the issues or the candidates? If they can't e bothered to vote voluntarily do they really add much to the decision-making process?

The benefit of the electoral college is that it forces the candidates to consider the voters who don't all live in the largest population centers.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.