The Electoral College is the antithesis of democracy

America’s antiquated system of selecting a president is actually trampling on the rights of voters


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Electors casting their votes

Isaiah Dupree, Opinions Writer

America, a country that prides itself on liberty and democracy, has failed at understanding what truly makes a country a democracy. In a democratic country, elections are (usually) determined by whichever candidate receives the most votes. However, In America, there have been five presidential elections in which the candidate who won the popular vote did not become president, the most recent in 2016. In short, this is because, in presidential elections, voting power is distributed among states in a seemingly arbitrary fashion.

The Electoral College is a system that disproportionately distributes voting power among states, leading to instances of presidential hopefuls winning the popular vote, but not becoming president. The electoral college has 538 votes in total, and they are intended to be distributed among states proportionally to their population, however, this is rarely the case. For instance, Vermont is home to 0.19% of the US population, yet has three electoral votes (0.5 percent of the total). Although the electoral votes are supposed to be split among the states evenly to give each voter equal power, states like Vermont are given a disproportionately large amount of votes. 

The opposite is true for larger states. California is home to 12 percent of the American population, but only receives 10 percent of the electoral votes. New York is home to 6.11% percent of Americans, but only 5.3 percent of electoral votes are given to the state. These differences may seem small, but they add up.

A map showing the weight the Electoral College puts on certain states (Photo courtesy of

The electoral college grants 100 percent of a state’s electoral votes to whichever candidate wins more than 50 percent of the state’s votes, regardless of how small the margin was. This, in conjunction with the disproportionate vote distribution, makes it possible for a candidate to win the presidential election with only 23 percent of the popular vote. By winning the majority vote by incredibly slim margins in 39 low population states, one can win the electoral college vote without the majority of Americans voting in their favor. Granted, this is a very extreme example of how the Electoral College can be exploited, but similar things aren’t completely impossible. President John Quincy Adams won the presidency with only 30 percent of the popular vote, and President Donald Trump won the presidency with 46 percent of the popular vote just five years ago.

Those that defend the Electoral College may assert that smaller states being given votes disproportionate to their population prevents presidential candidates from focusing all of their efforts on just a few big cities to secure the presidency. Many will cite the figure that there are 3,000 counties in America, and only 244 of them are needed to win 50% of the popular vote. However, it would be naive to think that the same issues don’t plague the electoral college. Only 13 of the 50 states are needed to win the electoral college vote, which incentivizes candidates to focus all of their attention on these large states, even if their interests do not represent the entire nation.

All of this is ignoring the various other systems relating to the presidential elections that prevent it from being a true democracy. For instance, US citizens in the American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Marina Islands and the US Virgin Islands cannot vote, even though the outcome of the election affects them. Several states have laws that prevent felons from voting after being released, and all states (besides Maine and Vermont) prevent current inmates from voting. 

An election that prevents millions of citizens from voting, and then disregards the votes of the remaining citizens can never be called democratic.