What is the Electoral College and why do we use it?


2016 Electoral College Map

Clare Michael, Staff Writer

I sit in my living room, one week before the election, listening to a relative of mine talk. He goes on about how the election will end. “The polls make it clear. Clinton’s going to win.” I look at a picture of the polls, and he is right. It is clear that blue is ahead of red. I can predict the results of the election with ease. One week later, I realize just how wrong I am. On the edge of my seat, I stare at the TV, puzzled at what I see. The poll votes show blue is far ahead of red. News reporters are positive blue should have won. But the map shows a big red wave across the country. The results of each do not match each other. News reporters declare a clear winner, and red had won the country’s vote.

The Electoral College is a concept discovered by our founding fathers. It was a compromise made so smaller states’ votes could matter as much as larger states in the election. Without it, anyone running for president would not pay attention to smaller states like Rhode Island and Connecticut. The founding fathers decided on a specific way this would operate. 

How does the Electoral College work?

Each state receives a certain amount of electors. The states population determines the amount of electors. For example, California is a larger state and has 55 electoral votes. Alaska has only three. This process protects what our founders wanted secured. Tara Ross, Author, lawyer, and Electoral College expert goes into this while talking for PragerU. “The Founders had no intention of creating a pure majority-rule democracy…pure democracies do not work. They implode,” The reason the Electoral College is here in the first place was to protect our democracy and keep it from imploding. 

The Electoral College takes care of rigged elections. A candidate running can not steal votes with the Electoral College in place. “The electoral college also makes it harder to steal elections. Votes must be stolen in the right state in order to change the outcome of the Electoral College…Without the Electoral College, any vote stolen in any precinct part of the country could affect the national outcome,” Ross states. Without the Electoral College, we would not have fair elections. 

Why the Electoral College?

Because some states are smaller, their popular votes would not be enough to matter in the election. No one would pay attention to those states. “If people directly elected the president, candidates would focus their attention on population-rich states like California, New York, and Texas rather than smaller states such as New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin,” says Alyssa Contreras, writer for Medium. Smaller states matter in the election with the Electoral College.

The founders did not immediately decide how they would control the outcome of elections. The founders made a final decision after long debating the issue. “The Founding Fathers debated for months, with some arguing that Congress should pick the president and others insistent on a democratic popular vote. Their compromise is known as the Electoral College.” stated Dave Roos, a staff writer for History. 

The Electoral College was a solution that allowed everyone who had ideas to meet in the middle. Some may argue that the Electoral College should not stay in place. Many elections ended in one candidate having the popular votes, and one having the electoral votes. A situation like this happened about five times in the past. The Electoral college helps determine a clear winner in the election and has since our country became free. The Electoral College was a happy medium, making it so that everyone approves the final decision.