One Person, One Vote

I recently submitted the composition below in consideration for a freelance writing job. The prompt was provided by the company.

With the 2020 Presidential election quickly approaching, whether the US Electoral College should be abolished has entered the national debate, again. Ratified in 1804, the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution provides for the election of the President by the Electoral College. A candidate needs 270 of 538 electoral votes to be declared President-elect. The primary reasons for the continued debate are the 2000 and 2016 elections where the winning candidate did not receive the popular vote.

In 2000, Democratic candidate, Al Gore won the popular vote, but not the required electoral votes for victory. He only received 255 votes with his Republican opponent George W. Bush receiving 246 votes. The election hung in the balance for weeks, the accuracy of Florida’s “hanging chads” ballots the primary issue. Ultimately, the US Supreme Court halted the Florida recount, awarding all of its 25 electoral votes to Bush, making him the President-elect. The 2016 election pitted Democratic Hillary Clinton against Republican Donald Trump. Although nearly every National news poll projected a decisive win for Clinton at the end of election day, American voters awoke to the stunning victory of Trump. While Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 2.8 million votes, Trump was declared President-elect with 304 electoral votes.

Most US citizens probably don’t realize they cast their vote for the electors pledged to the candidates. In most states, it is a winner-takes-all structure where whatever ticket gets the majority of the votes receives all the state’s electoral votes. Opponents of the winner-takes-all scheme content it undermines the principal of “one person, one vote”. In particular, National candidates aren’t compelled to campaign in states where the outcome is inevitable. Consequently, both traditional blue and red states are ignored by the campaigns. In other words, nominees only campaign where they can get the vote. Consequently, nearly all the political events for 2016 election were in only 11 swing states where the political races were extremely close. The result was the candidates pandering to the issues meaningful to only the constituency of these states.

A solution gaining strength with bipartisan support is the National Popular Vote, an interstate compact.  Where the 12th Amendment creates the Electoral College, Article II, Section I of the US constitution permits the states to determine how their electoral votes are awarded. The bill preserves the Electoral College by not requiring its abolishment as well as state-controlled elections. It only replaces the problematic winner-take-all method with one that grants state electoral votes to the candidate with the most popular vote. It ensures the Presidency is bestowed upon the candidate with both the required electoral votes and the most popular vote. Coincidently, 270 electoral votes are required for the bill to become effective. To date, sixteen states have enacted it into law, totally 196 electoral votes, and it has passed at least one chamber in another eight states with more than 75 electoral votes.

Whether the Electoral College should be abolished is a decision to be made by the US citizens through their elected officials. The consequences of such an action must be carefully considered and thoroughly debated without political influence, an ambitious endeavor with the prevalence of politics in the operation of the US Government. However, the National Popular Vote bill seems be a viable work-around, forcing the candidates to pay attention to the issues and concerns of the entire electorate. Preserving the concept of “one person, one vote”.

Works Cited:

Corbett, Erin. “Why Democrats Want to Abolish the Electoral College-And Republicans Don’t.” Fortune, Fortune, 2 Apr. 2019, fortune.com/2019/04/02/abolish-the-electoral-college-votes/.

Bouie, Jamelle. “The Electoral College Is the Greatest Threat to Our Democracy.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 Feb. 2019, http://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/opinion/the-electoral-college.html.

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