One Person, One Vote

The electoral college is outdated and unfair.

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It is common to see people wearing "I voted" stickers on election days

By Anthony Mondelli, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School - KY

About a month ago I turned 18, and with that came the new responsibility of being able to vote. It’s arguably the greatest right of being an American citizen, but unfortunately, the way our constitution structures elections effectively makes my vote null and void in a presidential election.    

I registered to vote the day I turned 18 and without hesitation, I registered as a Democrat. If I’m voting in a mayoral or senate race there’s no doubt that my vote would matter, as they are decided by the popular vote. But living in Kentucky, which is a historically red state, the importance of my vote in a presidential election becomes limited.

My vote literally does not matter because of where I live. My democratic vote is drowned out by the republican vote. No different than a republican who votes in California or New York, their vote quite frankly doesn’t matter. The current system isn’t fair to anyone of any party.

The electoral college was a compromise between the founding fathers who wanted Congress to pick the president and those who wanted a popular vote. In presidential elections, the first candidate to gain 270 out of 538 votes wins the race. 

When people cast their vote they’re technically not voting for a president but for electors who will then vote to elect a president. All states except Maine and Nebraska have passed winner take all laws.

The history of the electoral college is troubled. In order to get southern states on board with ratifying the constitution, the founding fathers came up with the three-fifths compromise. 

This “compromise” resulted in black slaves being counted as three-fifths of a person. This would be used to increase the number of representatives southern states had in congress which would then decide the number of electors each state had. Effectively giving southern slave states more power.

Sure, at the time, the survival of our country was dependent on southern states and this was the only way to ensure that, but now it is outdated and pointless. 

Since the constitution was ratified, slavery has been abolished and we mostly operate on a two-party system. Both of these undermine the original intent of the electoral college.

Besides the racist past of this system, it’s fundamentally flawed. 

In the history of our country, five presidential candidates have lost the white house after winning the popular vote but failed to earn the right number of electoral votes. 

Andrew Jackson in 1824, Samuel Tilden in 1876, Grover Cleveland in 1888, Al Gore in 2000, and Hillary Clinton in 2016. Not only were these five robbed from the office but the people that voted for them were also robbed of their vote.

Obtaining more votes than your opponent should equate to winning the election.

The arguments against the abolishment of the electoral college don’t hold up. The claim that big liberal cities would then decide entire elections is false. The claim that middle America would be left out and forgotten is false. 

Obtaining more votes than your opponent should equate to winning the election.”

The current electoral process gives rural middle America more influence even though they have fewer people. Switching systems wouldn’t leave them forgotten but it would even the playing field.

With the abolishment of the electoral college, every voice would be heard.

In order to abolish the electoral college and instate a “one person one vote” method, an amendment would have to be made to the Constitution. This would require a supermajority of Congress and ratification by three-fifths of the states. 

The people of this country should be deciding who becomes the next president, not population density. Every election in this country is decided by the popular vote except when selecting who becomes the next president, this must change, for the sake of equality and common sense. 

I don’t understand why this is such a partisan issue. A national popular vote would provide an equal playing field to all parties.

When I cast my first ballot in November 2020 I want my vote to matter and make a difference. As of right now, that won’t be the case. While it would be difficult to achieve, I hope to see this election process eliminated in my lifetime. Instating the popular vote as the requirement to become president will make voting fair for everyone of every party.

This story was originally published on The Lamplighter on January 17, 2020.