In 2000, I voted for George W Bush. He won the electoral college, but lost the popular vote. Sure, I was glad my candidate won, but even as a right wing 20-year-old, I recognized it was bullshit.
It gave too much power to a few swing states (I’m looking at you, Florida) and did not accurately represent the sentiments of the nation as a whole.
And now history repeats itself.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in yesterday’s presidential election. The majority of Americans wanted her to be our leader. As a now-blue voter in the red state of Texas, I can’t begin to describe how frustrating this is.
It feels like my vote, as well as the votes of nearly four million other Texas Democrats, didn’t count last night. Why even bother showing up to the polls if your politics don’t match those of your state?
The electoral college system gives an unfair advantage to smaller states. That’s right, not all votes are counted equally. Each state gets a certain number of delegates representative of their population, as well as an additional TWO delegates per state. So if you’re living in, say, Montana, your vote is actually worth more than a Californian’s since your state gets more delegates per capita.
The fact is that the electoral college is archaic and unnecessary. Sure, in 1800 it was impossible for voters to travel to Washington and for millions of physical ballots to be counted, thus our forefathers needed representation, but a *few things* have changed since then:
1. In early American elections, some states did not hold a popular vote. The electoral college was a way to give those states representation in federal elections while respecting the way they chose to govern themselves. In 2016, all states now hold a popular vote.
2. Ballots are counted differently nowadays. For those states holding popular elections in the 1800s, do you know how they tallied votes? The old fashioned way. Just imagine the margin for error and the paper cuts! For the love of dangling Chad, we have computers now. As I type this I can order a pizza, set a reminder to water my gardenias, write a Yelp review about my local oil change place, and schedule a dentist appointment–simultaneously. If we can swipe right to get into a romantic relationship in seconds, surely we can work out an easy way to vote as US citizens–not just as residents of red or blue states.
3. Our government has become increasingly centralized. When our nation was young, the office of president was intended to preside as more of a figurehead, while the governing was left to the governors of each state. To be frank, the executive branch was not nearly as important in the affairs of the states as it is now. The electoral college has always been a little unfair, but until the anti-slavery movement sought to increase the federal government’s scope of power, it didn’t matter. In 1825, your average Georgian didn’t really care if John Quincy Adams was in the White House up in DC because it didn’t impact his daily life much. We don’t live in such isolation any more. Our nation, our world, is interconnected and globalized. The system with which we elect the president has always been broken. The difference is that it matters now.
That’s why I’m saying f**k off to the electoral college. It is about as useful as 1990s dial-up internet, only slower and more aggravating.
It’s time to make every vote actually count in America. It’s time to elect federal politicians by popular vote.