In America, the Electoral College selects the president as opposed to a popular vote. It means that the majority of American citizens cannot vote for a president directly. The issue results in the fact that candidates can be elected even if their opponents receive larger support from the population. Consequently, the Electoral College is often criticized as an undemocratic practice. This paper argues that the Electoral College has become more democratic contrary to recent criticism. The report provides information about the origins of the process and its peculiarities, refers to the waves of democratization, and discusses the Framers’ ideas on responsible governance.
specifically for you
for only $16.05 $11/page
The Electoral College
Today, the process of the Electoral College consists of three parts, including the choosing of selectors, the meeting during which they vote, and the counting of the electoral votes. For each state, the number of electors equals the number of its U.S. Representatives and Senators; the employees of the federal government, as well as the Members of Congress, are not allowed to serve as electors. American citizens from each state vote for electors, who, later, meet to vote for a president and a vice president. The total number of selectors is 538; 270 votes are required for an election to be made (U.S. Electoral College). Thus, the decision about candidates is made by the members of the Electoral College, not citizens directly. However, the current Electoral College is different from its original version.
Changes in the Electoral College
The original Electoral College was established at the end of the eighteenth century and intended to be a compromise between the congressional election and the popular election of the president. The electors only voted for a president, not a vice president; the person receiving the second-largest number of votes became vice president. In addition, all presidential electors are selected by the American population while, in the early days, the majority of states chose them in their legislatures.
It means that today, there is more direct involvement in voting from the public than it was when the Electoral College was established. Another difference is that currently, presidential electors are expected to vote for the representatives of the parties that nominated them. It means that the Electoral College has potentially become less representative of individuals’ views and gained more independence.
Many peculiarities of the Electoral College are subject to criticism. First, as mentioned above, electors vote for selected presidential candidates rather than exercise their personal judgment (Dawkins). Second, due to the peculiarities of the Electoral College’s operations, the winner of the elections maybe not the candidate receiving the most votes from the population. It means that the new president’s legitimacy may be questioned, and this issue may result in a lack of trust.
In addition, as the number of U.S. Representatives depends on the size of a state, votes from smaller states have disproportionate weight compared to those from larger ones. However, the Electoral College cannot be considered undemocratic, as it serves the purpose of representing individuals’ interests. This point will be discussed in detail below.
The Wave of Democratization
The wave of democratization can be referred to as a significant surge of democracy in history. Scholars do not agree on the precise number of waves of democracy; some of them believe that there have been three waves while others refer to thirteen ones (Gunitsky 634). The Electoral College had been established before the first wave when not all people were allowed to vote. For instance, women’s suffrage was only granted by the 19th Amendment in 1920, while poor individuals had not been able to vote until the Voting Rights Act.
100% original paper
on any topic
done in as little as
It means that at first, the Electoral College, although it was supposed to consider all individuals’ choices, did not count the opinions of groups who were not allowed to vote. The change in the Electoral College that allowed for more direct involvement from the public is closely associated with the waves of democratization, as they ensured that all citizens could participate in the elections.
Framers’ Equation for Responsible Governance
The plan of the Electoral College presented by the Framers of the Constitution supported responsible governance and was based on several principles. First, it was desired that the sense of people guided the choice of a president as opposed to the state legislatures or the Congress (Hamilton). Second, the members of the Electoral College were elected based on a district-by-district basis (Dawkins).
Third, the Electoral College was designed to minimize political manipulation in the election process, resolve differences in state and federal interests, and support less populous states by providing them with senatorial electors. As mentioned above, another significant principle was that electors were expected to vote based on the population’s needs and perspectives, not their personal views. Although the original system seems reasonable, it soon became ineffective. The reason for it is that the existing system did not allow electors to vote for a president and a vice president and could result in these people being from different parties. The 12th Amendment was ratified in 1804 to eliminate these problems (Levinson).
Is the Electoral College Undemocratic?
The information presented above allows for concluding that the Electoral College cannot be considered undemocratic due to the following reasons. First, it is designed to make the election process easier. With the Electoral College, individuals have an opportunity to choose a dependable elector that will represent their interests. Moreover, as the Electoral College consists of only 538 electors, there is a limited risk for an election recount. Second, although the original system had flaws, the 12th Amendment was implemented to eliminate them. In addition, the 17th Amendment allowed the population to elect Senators by popular vote, which has made the Electoral College more democratic than it had been in the nineteenth century.
It is possible to say, however, that some criticism may be reasonable. For instance, it is evident that a direct public vote would be a more democratic approach to the election. In addition, the current system authorizes electors to vote according to their personal views, which can be considered a problematic issue. However, the claim that the Electoral College is entirely undemocratic is not true, as this process is based on citizens’ choice.
The Electoral College is a significant process that affects the results of the elections significantly. Individuals choose electors, which, in their turn, vote for a president and a vice president. The Electoral College is criticized for being undemocratic; however, this claim cannot be considered entirely fair. Individuals select Senators themselves as opposed to legislatures making a choice. It is possible to say that with time, the Electoral College has become more democratic than it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Dawkins, Richard. “Richard Dawkins: Electoral College Is Viciously, Unnecessarily Undemocratic.” TIME, 2016. Web.
Gunitsky, Seva. “Democratic Waves in Historical Perspective.” Perspectives on Politics, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 634–651.
Hamilton, Alexander. “The Federalist No. 68: The Mode of Electing the President.” Constitution Society, 2019. Web.
Levinson, Sanford. “The Twelfth Amendment.” National Constitution Center. Web.
U.S. Electoral College. “What is the Electoral College?” U.S. Electoral College. Web.