Distortion in the election system

Stuart Kusdono, Asst. Opinion Editor

It is not an exaggeration to say that our presidential election is not a true election at all. Indeed, our self-proclaimed democracy isn’t really a democracy thanks to the existence of the Electoral College, a system not only ineffective but also detrimental to the presidential election  as a whole.

The president, supposedly, is elected by the people rather than by representatives. Each vote, supposedly, should matter. Yet this is not the case.

For one, the Electoral College system grants a certain number of electoral votes to each state; however, the electoral votes that each state holds are not proportionate to the state’s population. Consequently, populations are underrepresented in some states and overrepresented in others.

For example, according to suburbanstats.org, California holds 55 electoral votes with a population of about 37 million, while Wyoming holds 3 electoral votes with a population of about 550,000. To put this into perspective, a Wyoming citizen’s vote holds three times the weight as that of a California citizen.

In addition, each state practices a winner-takes-all approach. It doesn’t matter if a candidate wins 90 percent of the state’s votes or 51 percent—the candidate takes all the electoral votes in the end. Because of this, California will reliably be a blue state and Texas will reliably be a red one, and so, a red voter in California won’t be of any significance as a blue voter would be in Texas.

As such, the presidential campaign is distorted significantly. Presidential candidates largely ignore campaigning in states where the majority is red or blue, since campaigning in those states won’t change the outcome of a winner-takes-all result. Instead, candidates strategically focus their efforts on swing states, where the state could fall either red or blue overall. Thus, the presidential election is heavily reliant on a select few states.

One might argue that since there have only been four instances out of 57 in which the president won the electoral votes and not the popular vote, the Electoral College system is consistent with the popular vote. However, this does not take into account the fact that such elections were distorted in terms of representation and campaigning. The actual popular vote results may very well have been different under a true popular vote system.

In addition, four out of 57 elections is quite a large percentage, especially when considering that the presidential election is the nation’s most significant vote. A popular vote system, ultimately, will lessen the distortions of the current system and truly create a democratic system of the people, by the people, for the people.