Electoral College

The term “Electoral College” refers to the process through which the President and Vice President of the United States are elected. In this process, voters in each state (including the District of Columbia) select electors to serve in the Electoral College, and electors congregate to vote for President and Vice President of the United States. Whether the Electoral College ensures fair representation of voters in today’s presidential elections is a point of debate across the political spectrum. 


Opponents of the Electoral College tend to associate themselves with the left side of the spectrum. Many think direct popular election would be a better alternative, often citing presidential candidates elected after losing popular votes. For example, Gail Collins (Left bias), a writer for the New York Times Editorial Board (Left Bias) criticized the Electoral College for putting “the wrong person” in charge of the Executive branch. The dismissal of popular votes, in their view, renders inequality through weighing votes differently based on the citizens of a voting state. In some swing states the margin between two parties is pretty narrow, each vote has more power in determining the results of the election than votes in other states. Thus, many are concerned that the Electoral College risks over-representing views of a small group of population due to demographic disparities. In their view, this trend is especially concerning as it can lead to legislation favored by the majority of Americans being blocked in Congress and can fuel radicalism.


Supporters of the Electoral College, who tend to be people on the right increasingly with recent GOP candidates winning the election despite losing the popular vote, disagree that population size should be the reason that the Electoral College should be replaced. They argue that discounting population factors is the advantage of the Electoral College in ensuring fair representation. One of the frequent supporting arguments is that direct popular election gives coastal population centers unfair advantages by appealing to a broader representation of the electorate that do not congregate in urban areas. In addition, some supporters also argue that the Electoral College is “emblematic of federalism,” which ensures that more states have an impact on the choice of the president. Contrary to the opponents’ beliefs, supporters argue that by incentivizing coalition-building, the Electoral College favors moderate candidates, instead of those who hold radical beliefs. Another argument that is supported by political columnist Jonah Goldberg (Right Bias) is that getting rid of the Electoral College would be impractical and create dysfunctions.


Some supporters of the Electoral College, however, agree with the other side that the Electoral College is flawed and needs to be reformed. Many of them agree that recent elections have not been good testaments to the coalition-building benefit of the Electoral College as theorized. However, many reform advocates of the Electoral College strongly oppose the idea of abolishing the process completely. For example, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (Lean Right Bias) emphasized the need to reform the Electoral College as a means to save it. In an op-ed for Courier Journal (Lean Left Bias), he proposed several solutions including requiring governors to certify states’ electors, clarifying the Vice President’s ministerial role in the process, increasing the threshold for triggering a congressional debate on objections to states’ results to one fifth of the House and the Senate.