I believe that the Electoral College should be eliminated and replaced by a direct preferential voting system.
The first and greatest reason that I believe the Electoral College should be eliminated is because it creates a disproportionate system of representation, giving too much power to so-called ‘swing states’ that can dictate the outcome of an election. The importance of any given state corresponds with the size of its population, and the apparent safety of the vote. As a swing state with a high population could ultimately decide who wins the election, the interests of that state are too highly prioritised by politicians, giving unequal value to different areas in the United States.
Secondly, because of the winner-takes-all system, the outcome of the Electoral College can contradict the outcome of the popular vote, giving disproportionate power to a minority of voters, as in the most recent presidential election. This occurs because the candidate who wins the majority of a state’s vote will receive all of that state’s support in the Electoral College, no matter how slight that majority is. As such, the votes of the minority in that state are wasted, and this means that the popular vote is ignored, decreasing the elected president’s mandate and unsettling political stability in cases where a president rules without the majority support of the people.
Finally, the Electoral College system is essentially outdated. The system was established by the Founding Fathers according to the political and social circumstances of the time. While the Electoral College was necessary and useful in that context, the Founding Fathers could not have predicted that society would develop in the way that it has, and the Electoral College should not remain for the sole reason that it was once the most appropriate system if it is no longer so.
Arguments of the Electoral College Supporters
However, those who support the Electoral College remaining in place would argue that the intention of the Founding Fathers was to achieve a compromise between addressing the will of the minority and conforming unquestioningly to it—the Electoral College supposedly supports the needs of the people whilst safeguarding against the rule of the mob. Although this is a good principle, it no longer applies, as the Electoral College has evolved over time, and realistically, it is very rare that electors would intervene in a vote. Furthermore, the general public is far more politically involved at the time the Founding Fathers were writing, due to the evolution of mass media and communication technology.
Rather than accepting that swing states can unfairly direct the course of an election, some may argue that the Electoral College actually ensures that even the less densely populated areas of the United States are addressed during the election process and campaigns. While this is true and seems like a reasonable argument, it does not take into account the fact that this is disproportionate. Giving less densely populated areas power is unfair because it may mean that their demands are prioritised over a higher majority of people.
Finally, it can be argued that the Electoral College can at least ensure that the outcome of the election is granted a stronger mandate. If the president is only elected by a slight majority of the popular vote, this may be exaggerated by the Electoral College. However, this does not effectively compensate for the possibility that a president may be elected against the popular vote entirely.
For these reasons, I believe that the Electoral College should be eliminated from the political system, as it is outdated and disproportionate. While there are some arguments to the contrary, none of these outweighs the reasons for elimination.