How’s the Electoral College Doing?

Sarah Bernstein, Guest Writer

Controversy over the long-established Electoral College was reignited after the divisive 2016 election, where President Donald Trump was elected into office by an Electoral College majority but lost the popular vote. Questions arose quickly after the election. Was the Electoral College even implemented for the right reasons? Does the Electoral College fit into a democracy? Should the Electoral College be abolished? 

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Each state has the same number of electoral votes as they have Congressional representatives. Most states have a “winner takes all” initiative. This means the candidate that wins the popular vote (even by just one vote) will win every single electoral vote. The Framers of the Constitution originally implemented the Electoral College to allow the elites to ultimately choose the President because of the distrust of the common man. So, this really a democratic institution if it gives more power to the upper class? This has been the question swirling around the United States since the 2016 presidential election and many are saying no.

Among those disagreeing with the Electoral College, is the Oregon Senate. On April 9th, 2019, it voted to award the presidency to the winner of the direct popular vote. The 17 to 12 vote on Senate Bill 870 came after an hour-long debate. If the bill is approved by the Oregon House and signed into law, Oregon would join 14 other states and the District of Columbia in the National Popular Vote compact. The compact states that state legislatures would award their state’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationwide. The compact will only take effect when enough states have joined to collectively award a majority of votes in the Electoral College.

Many proponents feel that this compact is beneficial to them, personally. It shows that is does not matter where voters live, their vote will matter just as much as a citizen in another state. It is the epitome of the “one person, one vote” notion. Opponents of the compact think that this is too much of a direct attack on the election of Trump after the 2016 election. But, most of the states that have joined the National Popular Vote compact did so before Trump was elected president, yet it has gained momentum this year, with three states joining as of early April.

Whether you are a supporter or opposer of President Trump, it is evident that this issue was not created from his election, but only brought to light by it. So, will the United States turn to a full, nationwide popular vote, or will it continue to use the two-hundred-year-old, traditional, Electoral College system? Only time will tell.