We Will Never Have Democracy as Long as We Have the Electoral College
June 9, 2022
Like many Americans concerned about the events of January 6, 2021, I am looking forward to the bi-partisan Congressional Hearings scheduled to begin tonight at 8:00pmET. But, as I listen to pundits discuss what needs to be done to “preserve our democracy,” I can’t help but hear the same types of denials I have been hearing about what needs to be done to “make our schools safe.”
If we want our country to be safe, we need to address the problem of easy access to guns. If we want our country to be a democracy, we need to address the problem of the Electoral College.
Contrary to what people may think, America is not a democracy. When we vote for President of the United States, we assign votes based on the number of electors granted to each state. Which means, ALL electors within the state go to the candidate with the majority of votes within the state. So, of the 55 “votes” given to California, 55 go to the candidate who won the state of California. In 2020, 63.5% of Californians voted for Biden, which means 11,110,250 chose him for president. But, there were 6,006,429 Californians who voted for the other guy. None of those votes counted. In other words, 6 million people in California had their votes disenfranchised by the Electoral College.
Now, you might not care if Biden was your candidate. But, it works the other way too. In Texas, the incumbent received 52.1% of the vote, while Biden received 46.5%. Here, the margins are noticeably smaller, 5,890,347 votes to 5,259,126 votes, a difference of 631,221 votes or 5.7% of the total 11,149,473 votes. In this case, almost half of Texans had their votes disenfranchised as all of Texas’s 38 Electoral votes went to the person who would later stage a coup which will be the subject of tonight’s hearings.
The same result would occur if either candidate won by 1 vote in any state. Nearly the half the state’s population would have their votes erased. Or, if one candidate received 100% of the votes within a state, they would still receive the same number of electoral votes they would receive if they only won by a single vote.
There will always be rampant inequities as long as we choose the next president according to the process known as the Electoral College. How is this any different than preventing people from voting by violating their voting rights?
The grab for political power we see happening is only possible because of the Electoral College. Gamers exploit the system by focusing on “key states” where there are usually very small margins between the parties. By manipulating votes in these “battleground” states, they can squeak by with extremely thin margins and still win the state. Do this enough times, and it is possible to win the presidency by failing to win the popular vote — the opposite of democracy.
There have been five presidents who lost the popular vote, two of these within the last 20 years. With disastrous results. In fact, we’ll be hearing about the disaster created by the last one tonight at 8:00pm.
Many voters simply don’t show up to vote knowing that if they live in an historically “red” state or “blue” state, their votes “don’t matter.” This occurs whether they identify with the party in power, or a minority party. On the other hand, voters in battleground states receive more than their fair share of attention from candidates because their votes “do matter.”
While abolishing the Electoral College would require a Constitutional Amendment, there is another process, currently underway, which would restore our democracy.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement among a group of states whose electoral votes would add up to or exceed the 270 vote threshold needed to win the presidency. Under the agreement, the states would award all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote, thus ensuring the majority of voters are heard.
As of May 2022, the NPVIC has been adopted by fifteen states and the District of Columbia. These states have 195 electoral votes, which is 72% of the 270 votes needed to give the compact legal force.
With the compact in place, there would be no point in trying to stack the deck in any given state, because all states would be battleground states. All votes would count equally. No American would have their votes erased by a relic of history established in slavery and racist by design.
More importantly, when the popular vote is used to elect the American president, only then will we have a true democracy.