I am continually surprised by the debate about a national popular vote versus the Electoral College. My primary argument is of simple math, for simplicity: Imagine a state with 40 percent Republican voters and 60 percent Democratic voters. Our current system, first-past-the-post, will say that 40 percent of the population does not matter and does not deserve a voice. Secondly, the electoral counts per state are not proportional toward the population. Colorado has nine electoral votes with 5.6 million people; comparatively, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota have a total of nine electoral college votes even though they have a combined population of 2.2 million. The Electoral College tells us that more than 3 million people’s votes do not matter. Only the place matters greater than the person. I would much prefer the national popular vote for the entire country and scrapping the Electoral College. Mainly, the Electoral College will undoubtedly disenfranchises voters of any political ideology.
Without considering the math, what is the foundation of the Electoral College? This is when arguments start portraying the founding fathers as some deity to be worshipped. This godlike attitude on the founding fathers allows most to ignore history. Let us explore what was written concerning the Electoral College. Alexander Hamilton wrote a defense to the Electoral College in Federalist Paper 68. Hamilton writes, “The immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” Hamilton, had a distrust of the intelligence of the electorate to make a wise decision, concerning the top executive. This is not a defense of a democracy but a defense of oligarchy, rule by a few in their own interest
The problems that arise from this archaic system are much deeper than we like to realize. Control has been at the heart of this country, never about one person one vote. Democracy, was never the goal 200 years ago and still is not today. So why do we continually reference our 200-year history? I cannot answer that; however, I do know that if I look at the top five democracies in the world today according to the EIU, Economist Intelligence Unit, they are all parliamentary systems (U.S. ranks 25th as a “flawed democracy”). I personally prefer a specific type of governance, but I believe we can improve what already exists here; after all, people movements have proven are the only force of change in this country.
The Electoral College maintains our unequal society in every area; economically, labor rights, human rights, voting rights, etc. Hamilton believed the Electoral College would prevent disorder within society; rather, disorder is caused because of inequality and this includes the inequality within the electoral system. What confuses me the most is a resistance to expanding voting rights, making voting easier, increasing polling locations, etc. Rather, what does this “flawed democracy” do? We purge voter rolls, limit polling locations, and prevent felons or people within jails to vote; the leaders gerrymander districts; fear is driven to prevent people from voting; and we still vote on a Tuesday (why not a weekend or a whole week?).
To enhance our current American system is to give power to the people by giving us the popular vote. If the first step is for Colorado to pass a bill to put our Electoral College toward the popular vote? It is a start. However, we must seek to make the whole nation based upon the popular vote to strive for that more perfect union. This initiative is an understanding of one person one vote. No matter where one lives, we should all have an equal vote; there should never be a red state or blue state.
Taylor Wicklund is a Longmont native with a B.A. in global studies with an emphasis in conflict transformation. Taylor has traveled around the world and lived in two other countries besides the United States. He is currently running a landscape business within Longmont.