Home > B1 > The Interesting and Complicated Process of the Presidential Election

The Interesting and Complicated Process of the Presidential Election

What I have found to be the most interesting part of our Government course is the rules and process for the election of the President of the United States because they are essential for a citizen to function in the United States.  The Electoral College is the process used by the United States to elect its President, giving votes not to citizens but to states, then the citizens decide how to spend their states votes.   What I found interesting was when I went and did my own research about the electoral college, and found many people disliking the system in its flaws and how some citizens are not counted as equals in the eyes of the Electoral college because some states receive more votes than they should and some states receive fewer votes than they should.  I found out some of this information through what should be a new learning resource, YouTube and the intellectual insight of CGPGrey and his video The Trouble with the Electoral College.  His videos showed me how the system works, how it is flawed and how it can be improved.

The Electoral College is the process to decide the president that divides 538 votes among the 50 states and Washington D.C.  The 538 votes are divided by population, with states like California and Texas receiving the most votes, and states like Montana and Rhode Island receiving the least votes.  Each state first receives 3 votes and then the rest are distributed by population.  On election day when citizens go to vote, they don’t vote directly for a candidate but their vote tells their state where they want the state to send its votes.  A candidate simply has to win a majority of the popular vote in a state to receive all of that state’s electoral votes.  This system becomes a problem in close states when the candidates are basically tied, whoever breaks that tie and takes the lead in that state gets 100% of that state’s electoral vote, even though possibly only 51% of the population of that state voted for him.  The Electoral College is a voting system that only cares about states, not citizens.

A problem that arises with the Electoral College is the problem of swing states, the only states that really matter in an election. As the process developed, many states became solid states, or states that will always vote for the same party.  The largest Republican solid state is Texas, while the largest Democratic solid states are California and New York.  Solid states rarely, if ever, switch so they basically guarantee each candidate a certain number of Electoral votes, all they will have to do is win over the swing states.  Swing states are states that “swing” from political party to political party each election.  They are the states that can go to either side, and that makes them the states that matter and where candidates spend all their time and money.  A citizens vote in a solid state does not really matter in the electoral college, while the vote of a citizen of a swing state is almost the weight of the whole election.  The Electoral College creates these swing states, if it was abolished, then Presidential candidates would have to pay attention to basically every citizen, not just the citizens of swing states.

The swing states Presidential candidates focus on during an election

The swing states Presidential candidates focus on during an election

The essential problem with the Electoral College is in the method in which the votes are processed.  When the Electoral College gives out three votes to each state and then distributes the rest by population, even at this point the system is unfair.  For the Electoral College to be logical, the 538 votes need to be divided up evenly by population, and by starting the process by giving each state three votes, some states already have more votes than they should have.  States like Alaska and Wyoming should only have 1 or 2 electoral votes, but because of the process starts by giving each state three votes, they have more than they should.  Much larger states than have to basically “donate” electoral votes to smaller states, for instance; Texas has 6 fewer votes than it should and California has 10 fewer votes than it should.  Because of this disproportion of votes, the Electoral College makes it seem as though more people live where they don’t and fewer people live where they do.  The simple solution to solve these problems created by the electoral college is to simply do away with the process, so that everyone is equal in the eyes of the Presidential election.

Candidate can receive only 22% of the popular vote and win the electoral college by getting 50+% in all of the small states where they have more electoral college votes than they should.

Candidate can receive only 22% of the popular vote and win the electoral college by getting 50+% in all of the small states where they have more electoral college votes than they should.

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