The Good and Bad of the Electoral College


Predicted Electoral College Map by Aiden Nesci prior to the 2020 Presidential Election.

The Electoral College is the system that the United States uses to choose its presidents. It has been used ever since the very first presidential election where George Washington won in a landslide. Two of the last five presidential elections have had the loser of the election win the popular vote. Because of the mistakes in the system, questions have been asked on why America still uses the Electoral College, and what could replace it.

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors who are distributed throughout the 50 states and Washington, D.C. depending on a state’s population. To win the election, a candidate must win at least 270 electors.  Each state is guaranteed three electors and population size decides the rest. So states with big populations like California and Texas get a lot of electors and states with small populations like Wyoming and Vermont get the minimum number. 

That is where a big problem with the system comes in. Because of the guaranteed three votes, states like Wyoming and Vermont get a more impactful vote than one in California and Texas. If the system was truly balanced then those two small states would only get one vote instead of three, and the bigger states would have a few more electors in them.

Starting in 2000 with George Bush’s victory against Al Gore, people have been pushing for a change, or an abolishment, to the Electoral College. In that election, Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to Bush. The same thing happened again 16 years later with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton won the popular vote and Trump won the election. 

While the Electoral College has its problems, it is not completely bad. Its main benefit is its way of clearly deciding who the winner is. The losing candidate may try to declare a nationwide recount if America went by popular vote. But with the Electoral College, a candidate only needs 270 electors to win. And unless the vote was extremely close in a state, there would be no recount.

It is unlikely that the Electoral College will ever be abolished, but if it was, politicians would campaign for the people themselves, and not just the states that they can get a lot of electors in.